The Indian women’s hockey team scripted history in Tokyo on Monday by qualifying for the Olympic Games semifinals for the first time, knocking out three-time champions Australia by a solitary goal.
A day after the Indian men’s team entered the Olympic top four following a 49-year gap, the world No 9 women’s side also entered the history books with a phenomenally gritty performance.
Coming into the match, the odds were totally against India as they squared up against world no 2 Australia, who were unbeaten at Tokyo 2020 so far. But the Indians, determined to prove a point, produced a strong and brave performance to eke out the narrow win over the Hockeyroos.
Drag-flicker Gurjit Kaur rose to the occasion when it mattered and converted India’s lone penalty corner in the 22nd minute to surprise the Australians. It was the only goal of the match and it proved to be a historic one.
Describing the win as “a dream moment”, former India hockey captain Viren Rasquinha said: “Impressed with the way the Indians defended post the goal. They didn’t just defend the lead, they almost attacked the lead. They were not afraid to go up and press the Australians.
“The men’s game made us much more uncomfortable yesterday than the Australian women. Credit to the Indian women’s team. One biggest improvement in the team is the sheer physical presence, the fitness, endurance levels. In today’s modern format unless the fitness level isn’t at the highest level it is hard to survive.”
Rasquinha added: “To score a goal against one of the best teams in hockey is amazing. She hasn’t been in best form, it took a bit of luck, as it took two deflection but who cares, what matters it was a goal for India.”
Read more: India at Tokyo 2020, day 10 live updates
Here are some more reactions after India’s remarkable victory over Australia: