Indian women pip Poland 3-1 in World Hockey League Round 2 Finals
Poland were always going to be a tough nut to crack as they are a side that does not easily get overawed by the higher rankings of any opposition. We all saw how the 26th-ranked nation stunned 21st-ranked Malaysia in the semifinals, which was much against the form of both teams. They were looking to cause another upset in the final, but the Ritu Rani-led Indian outfit countered everything Poland threw at them and chalked up a 3-1 win to qualify for the FIH Hockey World League Semifinals slated to be held later this year.
Earlier, Poland did everything possible to frustrate the opposition forwards, nullifying all raids with a great deal of confidence and just when it seemed that the Indians were getting impatient, Vandana Katariya produced a gem of a goal in the dying seconds of the opening quarter. It was Deepika, who put up a sturdy display in midfield, who drilled in a fierce diagonal slap pass from the right to an unmarked Vandana, who did well to trap a rapidly moving ball and unleashed a magnificent reverse shot that opened the scoring.
Poland did not take much time to level things as they equalized early in the second quarter, converting their first penalty corner. Oriana Waselek rattled the Indian cage off a brilliant indirectly taken short corner, beating the Indian goalkeeper all ends up.
India suffered a setback of sorts when the in-form Vandana Katariya was stretchered off the pitch after she seemed to have twisted her ankle after colliding with a Polish player. The Indian attack, without Vandana, lacked the same momentum in the third quarter as Poland kept pressing forward and kept the Indian defence under pressure. The Redskirts forced two back-to-back penalty corners, but India managed to repel their attacks.
Just like in the opening quarter, India scored a goal late into the third quarter through Rani Rampal. Rani slotted home a razor-sharp pass from Deepika, who hardly put a foot wrong in the entire match. India muffed up two short corners in the final quarter and then it was the turn of Poland to miss one much to the relief of the home side.
Soundarya Yendala, who is making a comeback to the national side, scored the much-needed insurance goal with a minute remaining for the final hooter to ensure that the Indians had the match in their bag.
With this win, India qualify for the semifinals of the World Hockey League which will be held later in the year.