Tokyo Olympics: 3 takeaways from India's 1-4 loss to Great Britain in women’s hockey

Savita was brave in goal but still conceded four goals. (Image Courtesy: Hockey India)
Savita was brave in goal but still conceded four goals. (Image Courtesy: Hockey India)

The Indian women's hockey team crashed to a third successive defeat at the Tokyo Olympics as they went down 1-4 to defending champions Great Britain.

The Indians were looking to score their first points in the competition after previous losses to the Netherlands and Germany. They will now need a couple of to register huge wins over Ireland and South Africa to give themselves a chance of qualifying for the quarter-finals.

Despite being pegged back by a second-minute Hannah Martin goal, the Indians kept the pressure on their more-fancied opponents. But they were unable to get past Maddie Hinch in goal who was brilliant as always.

Hannah Martin doubled the lead early in the second quarter but the Indians pulled one back through a superbly executed penalty corner that saw Sharmila Devi deflect Gurjit Kaur's flick into the net.

The Indians were very much in the contest and within striking distance of an equalizer when a yellow card shown to Salima Tete altered the script of the match, allowing Great Britain to veer ahead.

#3 Cards that ruined the day for India

Salima Tete picked up a yellow card for an ugly challenge at just the wrong moment, when her side were doing pretty much everything right in defense and attack.

The Indian midfield managed to keep Mark Hager's strikers at bay while also manufacturing some great moves thanks to the creativity of Rani Rampal and the speed of Monika Malik.

Under pressure, the GB defense was forced into making crucial errors and it seemed only a matter of time before the Indians would be rewarded for their persistence, if only they did not concede.

Young Salima's inexperience showed as she indulged in a seemingly needless challenge, given the manner in which the match was poised at the time.

Lily Owsley's 41st-minute goal was the turning point of the match after which there was no way back for the Indians, who could well have picked up one vital point from the game.

Vandana Katariya picked up a green in the 39th minute and the two-minute suspension doubled India's troubles at a crucial juncture. Things went from bad to worse when Navjot had to leave the field after picking up a yellow card soon after.

#2 The penalty corner battery struggles

For the first time in the competition, the Indians managed to pull off a well-crafted penalty corner routine with Sharmila and Gurjit combining superbly. But the sheen of the brilliant effort was dulled more than ever by the short corners that failed to work out.

Indian coach Sjoerd Marijne could only shake his head in frustration as his side failed to stop one cleanly as a result of which the flick could not be taken at a time when an equalizer seemed imminent.

For a long time, the Indian team management have been tight-lipped about who the penalty corner options for India were apart from Gurjit Kaur and Rani, whose trademark slap shots are usually employed only when the side are under tremendous pressure.

Deep Grace Ekka stepped forward to try a few short corners against Great Britain but the PC defense that flanked a redoubtable Maddie Hinch in goal proved to be too much for the Odisha defender.

The Indians wasted six of their seven penalty corners on a day when a set piece could well have earned them a vital point.

#1 Maddie Hinch is unbeatable as ever

Maddie Hinch - FIH Hockey Pro League
Maddie Hinch - FIH Hockey Pro League

One player who stood between India and a second goal was Maddie Hinch, the goalkeeper who won the day for her side at the Rio finals in 2016.

The lion's share of the credit for Great Britain's gold medal in 2016 should deservedly be claimed by Hinch, who stopped four penalties against the Netherlands. She also stopped the Indian strikers from scoring during the bronze medal match of the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

On the pitch in Tokyo, the GB goalkeeper continued to be miserly as ever, denying the Indians five times in total - which included three shots from open play.

As the tournament progresses, the 32-year-old custodian's form will be vital to her team's chances - but the Indians discovered once again, on an unfortunate Wednesday morning in Tokyo, that it takes something special to get past Maddie Hinch.

Edited by Samya Majumdar

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