India started their World Cup campaign in style against Olympic champions and hosts England at the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Center and will look to carry the momentum forward as the tournament progresses.
The Indian girls took the lead before half-time but conceded a goal midway through the final quarter to earn a creditable draw. As a result, both teams split points and currently share the second place in Pool B.
Ireland, the second-lowest ranked team in the competition caused a major upset when they beat the USA in their opener and are currently on top of Pool B with 3 points.
The Golden Girls will be back in action tomorrow against the Irish Green Army and will go all out for a win to strengthen their chances of making it to the quarterfinal. The Indians are ranked tenth while coach Graham Shaw's team are ranked sixteenth in the FIH World Rankings, but Rani Rampal's girls can ill afford to take the Irish lightly.
An unexpected series of results have made a mockery of the rankings thus far.
The Indians started the trend on the first day of the competition and the Irish followed suit. Even more startling was the fact that Italy, the lowest-ranked team at London beat eighth-ranked China 3-0 while Asian challengers Japan defied their twelfth ranking to upstage New Zealand who is ranked fourth.
Rankings apart, the Irish were ominous in the first match and strikers Deirdre Duke and Nicola Evans can make life difficult for the Indian eves tomorrow. Shirley McCay's experience may prove invaluable for Ireland as she will be the most experienced player on the pitch tomorrow with over 260 international appearances.
The Indians are not bereft of experience either and Deepika Thakur with close to 220 caps will have to overcome the disappointment of a defensive lapse in the opener and inspire her team like she has on numerous occasions in the past.
Also on Sjoerd Marijne's radar would be captain Kathryn Mullan and Lizzie Colvin who had both scored against India in the HWL Semifinal last year.
Back then, India had surrendered an early one-goal lead to lose 1-2 in Johannesburg and will have to ensure that history does not repeat itself at London. Marijne stated that the Indian girls were disappointed after not being able to earn full points and felt they could have done better.
The opportunity for an improved performance presents itself tomorrow, but there will be scant room for error as anything less than a win could prove hazardous to India's chances of making it to the next round.
The Indians were unfazed throughout in their opener and refused to be daunted by either the reputation of their opponents or the mammoth crowd, and need to remain just as unruffled if they are to create history by progressing further than any of their predecessors ever have.
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Event: Women's Hockey World Cup 2018
Venue: London, The United Kingdom
Date: 26 July, 2018
Time: 6:30 pm Indian Standard Time (IST)
Telecast: Star Sports 2, Star Sports HD2
Live Streaming: Hotstar
Live Updates: SportskeedaPublished 25 Jul 2018, 19:32 IST