The last time the Indian women’s hockey team rubbed shoulders with minnows Thailand at the 2010 Asian Games, it was a stroll in the park for them – they chalked up a massive 13-0 win. But on Monday, there were no easy pickings for the Ritu Rani-led Blueskirts, who muffed up several chances en route to a 3-0 win over Thailand at the Seonhak Stadium in Incheon.
The 53rd ranked Thailand eves were expected to receiving a pounding from the talented Indian forwardline, but the profligacy of the latter meant that they could avoid the proverbial ‘goal-bashing’. India mounted raids from the outset, but were denied any scoring opportunities in the first ten minutes of play. It was left to Poonam Rani – one of the goal-scorers in India’s 13-0 win over Thailand in the 2010 Asiad – to open the account in the 14th minute off a penalty corner. The Thai girls defied the Indians for the rest of the first half and trooped off the pitch with great deal of respect trailing by a solitary goal. The Indians found it hard to breach the Thai citadel and forged ahead only in the 39th minute through Vandana Katariya as they went on to hold a 2-0 lead at the end of the third quarter. The final quarter warranted India churn out a few goals to keep their goal average high, but it was only in the 53rd minute that Deepika made the scoreline 3-0 off a short corner. That was the last time India troubled the scorers as Thailand came off the pitch with a respectable defeat.