The Indian women’s hockey team and England lived up to the billing as they produced a high-voltage campaign opener in their Pool B match at the FIH Women’s Hockey World Cup in a packed Wagener Hockey Stadium, in Amsterdam on Sunday. Goals were scored by Isabelle Petter (9’) and Vandana Katariya (28’) as they helped their respective teams add a crucial point on the pool table.
Both teams got off to a rollicking start, pushing each other for ball possession and creating space in each other’s circle. England had the first chance when their forward took a fierce shot on goal, but an alert Savita Punia averted the danger with a diving save only minutes into the first quarter.
But England were successful in their second attempt when the experienced Lily Owsley - with 182 international caps - set up Isabelle Petter who deflected past Savita. Petter sent the ball high, pocketing the top of the net to fetch England that much needed 1-0 lead in the 9th minute to put pressure on India.
Determined to stay on-par with England in the game, India kept calm and worked on their strategy to create chances in the circle. Moments after England took the lead, Gurjit Kaur’s drag-flick crashed into the post.
India had to wait till the 28th minute to equalise. Monika Malik’s penalty corner was saved by Maddie Hinch. But the rebound fell kindly to Vandana Katariya who made no mistake to score.
Coming back from the ten-minute break, India upped the pressure on England with potent attacks. They played with speed, and dominated the ball possession but England’s defence was rock solid with their experienced custodian Hinch up to the challenge, making some fine saves and guiding her team’s defence from the back.
With no goals scored in the third quarter, the match went down to the wire as both teams fought hard for that elusive lead. Though England created a couple of chances in the D with shots on goal, they were off target on most occasions. India could have extended the lead in the 56th minute when Neha and Navneet worked inside the D to push the ball forward to the unmarked Sharmila.
But with an open goal in front of her, the ball bounced off Sharmila’s foot.
There was one more chance for India with just two minutes left on the clock, as the referee awarded the team in blue a penalty corner. However, the Indians failed to capitalise, going for a variation that did not trouble the English defence.
On Saturday, China drew 2-2 against New Zealand in the pool B match, keeping the pool open.
Belgium and South Africa started the day’s proceedings in Terrassa, Spain, as the European giants went on to register a commanding 4-1 win in their Pool D match.
Later on, South Korea came up with a 3-2 win in the final minutes of play - arguably against the run of play - to beat Canada in Pool C.
In the clash between two hockey powerhouses, defending champions Netherlands went on to beat Germany 3-1 in their Pool A match, before Aregentina beat hosts Spain 4-1 in the last match of the day.
Results from July 3
Belgium 4, South Africa 1
Player of the Match: Charlotte Englebert (BEL)
England 1, India 1
Player of the Match: Isabelle Petter (ENG)
Korea 3, Canada 2
Player of the Match: Seo Jungeun (KOR)
Germany 1, Netherlands 3
Player of the Match: Marloes Keetels (NED)
Spain 1, Argentina 4
Player of the Match: Maria Granatto (ARG)
India will take on China in their second Pool B match on July 5, at 20:00 hrs IST. The match will be live on Star Sports 1 and streamed on Disney+ Hotstar