India registered their first win against the Netherlands in over a decade with a clinical 2-1 win thanks to their efficient attacking performance backed by their usually stellar defence.
The Netherlands came into the contest against India today with a long winning streak in the FIH competitions, with their last loss coming against Argentina in the FIH Hockey Pro League back in 2020. But with a much-changed team filled with youngsters, they more than met their match against an experienced Indian team.
With 8 players making their first appearances for the Dutch national team, the Dutch did not start the game as overwhelming favourites that they usually are. The Indian line-up also featured a few changes, but their changes were linked to their younger stars being away at the FIH Hockey Women’s Junior World Cup, in South Africa. So the contest was set up as a youth vs experience battle and it played out that way.
The Dutch youngsters started the game in a dominant fashion, bossing possession and territory for the first 10 minutes, that also yielded 3 penalty corners. Those corners were well defended by Indian captain Savita as she kept the score level and India survived the initial threat and started to find their way into the game.
India’s first real attack came in the 11th minute and it led to a penalty corner for the Indians. While the Dutch had not managed to find a way past the Indian defence on their 3 penalty corners, India found a goal right away. Gurjit, whose shot was saved initially, found herself with the possession off the rebound. She calmly worked her way in and passed it to Navneet whose cross in the circle required just a touch from Neha and India had an unlikely lead.
The first goal gave India the confidence they needed and they won the midfield battle for the rest of the 1st half, with their half-press that closed off attacking routes for the Netherlands.
The Netherlands still found their way into the Indian circle from time to time, but often it was through the flanks with not much support available centrally.
India got the 2nd goal of the game too, thanks to another penalty corner that was first saved by Remmerswaal, but the ball got stuck under her foot and by the time she could gather her footing, it had been taken away by Sonika and placed into the back of an empty goal, with less than 2 minutes remaining in the half.
India started the 2nd half on the front foot as well and nearly found a third goal through Jyoti, but her attempted shot at a bouncing ball went just wide of the post to the left. The Netherlands finally breached the Indian goal through a Penalty Stroke by Jansen, after her penalty corner shot had deflected towards goal and struck Monika on the goal line.
With just a one-goal deficit to overcome in the final quarter, the Netherlands started the final 15 on the front foot, but once again the experienced Indian team frustrated their young counterparts with a disruptive press along the half-line. The Netherlands had a couple of chances and shots, but none too threatening, and were dealt with calmly by the experienced trio of Gurjit Kaur, Navjot Kaur and Savita.
The final 3 minutes that often get frantic in close games, were coolly handled by the Indian team as they kept hold of possession high in the Dutch half and the clock finally ran down, ending the Netherlands’ long winning run.
Navneet Kaur, playing in her 100th match for India won the player of the match and said: “Happy with the 100th cap and really happy for the team for this impressive win, hopefully we can do the same again [on Saturday].”
Dutch captain van Laarhoven said she was not too disappointed with the result, adding: “We are a young team so it will take a little time to find the right rhythm. We played well enough and just need to convert more of the chances. Hopefully, we can do that tomorrow.”
Both teams will be back in action on Saturday at the Kalinga Stadium, with the match scheduled to start at 3.30 pm IST.
FIH Hockey Pro League – 8th April 2022
Result: India 2, Netherlands 1 (Women)
Player of the Match: Navneet Kaur (IND)