The Golden Girls fired in 21 goals against a hapless Kazakh side but failed to equal the Games record which was set by the Indians themselves in the 1982 Asiad. It was in New Delhi that women's hockey was first introduced into the Asian Games, and the hosts had then defeated Hong Kong by a mammoth 22-0 margin.
Give-and-go hockey does the trick
Rani Rampal did not take the field but her teammates pulverized Kazakhstan with an equal measure of brilliance and ruthlessness. The Indian girls combined brilliantly and followed coach Sjoerd Marijne's mantra of give-and-go hockey to stun the Kazakh defenders.
The Indian coach was pleased and opined that the girls themselves experienced how effective quick passing was during an interaction with Sportskeeda after the match.
"I asked them to do that (pass and run) against Indonesia, and we didn’t do it enough, and they now have experienced what can happen if they do it."
The Indians pressed hard in the opening minutes and earned quick PCs. Gurjit failed to convert the first two but fired the third in low and to the left of goalkeeper Bakhavaddin.
An attack from the left flank saw Lilima Minz deliver a clever assist for Lalremisiami whose made no mistake, and Neha Goyal added another in the tenth minute. The Golden Girls then switched flanks and Navneet scored a couple of goals after advancing down the right.
The Indians led by 5 goals at the end of the first quarter and when Navjot Kaur scored in the sixteenth minute, the Kazakh defenders decided that they had enough and crowded the defence with every player on the pitch.
Cramped for space by the sudden change of positioning, the Indians adopted a quick change of strategy and used the width of the field to build attacks thereby foxing the rather inexperienced Kazakhs. Lalremsiami seems to have mastered the art of positioning herself at the goalmouth just at the opportune moment and tapped the ball in following a PC rebound.
Vandana shows her class at Jakarta
The Indians then seemed to run out of ideas for a while and failed to score until the end of the first half when Vandana scored India's ninth. The striker was brilliant throughout the match delivering pin-point assists and breaking the defence down with her clever deceptive moves.
Vandana was disappointed with her own performance at the World Cup, and her brilliant show does augur well for the side.
"We all know that Vandana is a good player, and she must always have confidence in herself. If she does that, she can play every match just the way she did today," said Marijne.
The Indian eves came on to the pitch after the long breather more determined than ever to increase the tally, and Vandana set Udita up in the 33rd minute to increase her team's lead to double figures.
"We have many PC options"
Deep Grace Ekka's strike off a PC found a Kazakh foot right in front of the goalmouth and Gurjit Kaur scored from the penalty stroke that was awarded. A barrage of goals then followed with Vandana and Lilima scoring in quick succession.
The only concern for the Indians on the day was their reluctance to try PC variations, and Gurjit repeatedly tried flat and straight flicks which were not good enough to beat the Kazakh defence. Finally, Deep Grace Ekka displayed her acumen with a PC and decided to direct her shot low and to the right which beat Bakhavaddin.
Gurjit then did just the opposite and scored her best goal of the day by striking a lethal blow which sailed well above the goalie, and the runner, and landed in the top corner of the net.
The Indians scored five times from the 16 PC's that they earned and Marijne was emphatic that he has plenty of options going forward. "We have so many more options, and Gurjit struck some beautiful PC's. It is good for Grace that she scored and that will help her in the next matches."
Lilima added another to her tally and the girls had their sixteenth goal which was just one short of what the Indian men had achieved against Indonesia in their opener.
"I am happy with the discipline"
The Kazakh girls continued to resist bravely but conceded five goals in the final quarter as the Indian strikers literally scored at will. Goalkeeper, Guzal Bakhavaddin fought till the end like a brave warrior albeit for a losing cause.
"We showed the behaviour of the highest ranked team in Asia, and that’s what I wanted to see today." said the proud coach. "I know Kazakhstan is not the best team here but I am happy with the discipline and the behaviour. This must be the normal attitude. If we keep doing this we will be unstoppable against the bigger countries also."
Navneet scored five goals and Gurjit scored four, while Vandana and Lalremsiami scored three each, and the Indians managed 48 shots on goal out of which 31 were from open play.
Although Rani did not play, the Dutchman is confident that she will be available for the rest of the tournament. The Indians girls can now recuperate as they have a well-deserved break before facing up to a formidable South Korean side on Saturday.Published 21 Aug 2018, 23:00 IST