It so happens that sometimes the final outcome of a match does not really tell the true story of how a team have performed – the performance of the Indian women hockey team the recently-held Hawke’s Bay Cup in New Zealand is a classic example of this.
Indian women hockey team put up emphatic performance in the league phase
Of course, a win is a win be it a big win or a narrow win – similarly a defeat is a defeat and it hardly matters whether it a close loss or a heavy defeat. The Indian women put up a strong showing in their tournament opener against fifth ranked China and even led by a solitary goal at half-time – the 13th ranked side holding the upper hand could have set things up for a big upset but China hit back scoring twice in the second half to clinch the issue. The Indian eves dished out a robust performance against eighth ranked USA and kept pace with them before the Americans turned things around to pull off a 4-2 win. The match of the tournament has to be surely the game against world number two Australia. Nobody expected them to escape with a goalless draw as the last time the two teams met India were beaten by eight goals.
The impressive run in the league phase could not be replicated by the Indian eves in the quarterfinals against hosts and world number four New Zealand. India scored an early goal to march ahead before the Black Sticks silenced them scoring four times to romp into the semifinals.
India met USA for the second time in a classification game and lost 0-3 before pulling out a come-from-behind 3-2 win over tenth ranked Japan to avoid the wooden spoon.
Need to regularly play top teams
It has to be understood that the Indian team does not regularly play teams like Australia, Argentina, Netherlands, New Zealand and China simply because they have never featured in the Olympics or in the Champions Trophy as they have struggled to qualify for these events. The only two occasions India meet these teams are the World Cup and the Hockey World League. Like we have seen with our men’s team, frequent exposure against these top teams will help the Indian women to bridge the gap and break into the top-6 at least sooner than later. The goalless draw against world number two Australia is a gentle reminder that the Indian team have the wherewithal to neutralize any side on any given day.
So in summary, let us look at our women’s team performance in perspective and not just go by their seventh-place finish in the Hawke’s Bay Cup.