Their defensive prowess on display in the 1-1 draw against Olympic bronze medallist England, India would look to plug holes in the attacking department and register their first win of the women’s hockey World Cup in their second game against China on Tuesday. The Indians produced a superlative defensive performance, spearheaded by skipper and goalkeeper Savita Punia, in the drawn game against England in their opening Pool B match on Sunday.
The likes of vice-captain Deep Grace Ekka, Nikki Pradhan, Gurjit Kaur and Udita dished out an excellent performance, denying England a single penalty corner in the entire 60 minutes.
Their only blemish was the ninth minute goal they conceded when Isabella Petter neatly deflected in a pass from outside the ‘D’.
Barring that, it was a near perfect effort from the Indian backline against England, who fielded almost the same set of players from the Great Britain side that featured in Tokyo Olympics.
Savita, as usual, was brilliant at the goal, making a couple of fine saves with her quick reflexes.
However, India were found wanting in the penalty corner conversion as they could score just once from the seven PCs they got, with Vandana Katariya getting the equaliser from a rebound in the 28th minute.
India also created a lot of chances against England but the forwardline failed to utilise most of them, barring the equaliser.
In the 56th minute, Sharmila Devi wasted a golden opportunity as he failed to get her stick on to a fine pass from a team-mate.
The Indians would look to address their attacking woes and beat world number 13 China, who held New Zealand to a 2-2 draw in the other Pool B match on Sunday. Chief coach Janneke Schopman would be eyeing a more clinical performance from the forwardline, consisting of the likes of Vandana, Lalremsiami and Shamila.
Going by form and rankings, world number eight India will definitely start as favourites against China but complacency is something the Savita-led side would look to avoid.
It was India who came out on top in the last two meetings between the two sides.
India had thrashed China 7-1 in their first outing in the FIH Pro League tie before winning the second match of the double-header 2-1 in Muscat, Oman.
In the other Pool B match on Tuesday, England will face New Zealand.
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