Ritu Rani-led Indian eves stormed into the final in Round 2 of the Women’s Hockey World League as they outclassed Thailand by a convincing 5-0 margin. India will now face Poland, courtesy the latter’s slender 1-0 win over Malaysia in an earlier semifinal.
1st Quarter: Jaspreet Kaur breaks deadlock; India dominate
Facing a relatively weaker opposition in Thailand, the Indian eves were on the attack from the word go. Vandana Katariya and Ritu Rani succeeded in making inroads even as significant chances to secure the first strike went a begging. Amandeep Kaur and Poonam Rani in particular missed prime opportunities to put the women in blue ahead early in the first quarter.
The ploy to play Katariya deeper than her usual position paid massive dividends as the Thai midfielders were not able to penetrate beyond the halfway line.
An unfortunate rush of blood from Thai defender Kanya Jantapet with 11 minutes played saw Polish referee Urszula Wybieralska point to the penalty spot. India’s dependable drag flick expert Jaspreet Kaur made no mistake as she smashed the ball into the left top corner giving the Thai custodian Thongsun absolutely no chance.
2nd Quarter: Sunita and Poonam add to goals tally
The second quarter saw more relentless hockey from the Indians. As a result, they were awarded a penalty corner with barely thirty seconds of the quarter played. The absence of Jaspreet meant that it was the turn of 23 year-old Sunita Lakra to step up to the plate. A near perfect injection from skipper Ritu Rani ensured that Sunita Lakra slotted home to put her side two goals to the good.
A few minutes later, forward Poonam Rani added the third goal and the first goal from open play. A skilful run and an inch-perfect pass from Katariya to Poonam saw the latter tap in an easy goal. The scoreboard at the Dhyan Chand Stadium in New Delhi read 3-0 in favour of India at half time.
3rd Quarter: Rani Rampal keeps scoreboard ticking
Mindful of the need to play back to back matches, Indian coach, Oltmans withdrew Katariya and Ritu Rani at the start of the second half in order to keep them fresh for the final to be played on Sunday. Despite that, the Indian attacks continued unabated. With 40 minutes played, a calm flick from the stick of Rani Rampal from barely a few yards from goal increased the Indian lead to four goals. There was certainly no way back for Thailand at this juncture.
4th Quarter: Amandeep Kaur seals comprehensive win
Despite a threatening attack from Thailand in the first minute of the final quarter, India dominated the play once again. Amandeep Kaur made amends for earlier missed chances, as she finally scored a goal with seven minutes of the match to play.
Amandeep’s goal summed up a comprehensive win in what was a dominating display by the Indian women.
Womens Hockey World League Final Coming Up
Despite the comprehensive win, coach Roelant Oltmans will be wary of the strong Polish side his team will be facing. The Poles secured qualification to the final with a slender 1-0 win over Malaysia. Oltmans will also be hoping that the Indian eves fare better in conversion of their penalty corners in the final on Sunday.