Indian vice captain Deep Grace Ekka believes that a strong defensive line will be critical to the women’s hockey team’s chances of winning the final two matches of their tour of Australia as well as putting up a strong performance in the upcoming 19th Asian Games Hangzhou 2022.

The Indian team has played three games against Australia, losing 2-4 and 2-3 in the first two games, respectively, and coming from behind in the third game to secure a 1-1 tie. In their final two games of the tour, the visitors will face Australia A.

The Indian team were dangerous in attack in all three games, but struggled to keep Australia from scoring goals. Deep Grace Ekka, the team’s experienced defender, commented on the same, saying, “Given that we played against a strong team like Australia, we produced a good show in the first three games, especially attacking-wise, but we conceded quite a few goals, which shouldn’t be happening. Hence, we are focusing on improving our defending in the next two games and ending our tour on a high by winning the remaining matches.”

“Also, if we ensure that we don’t concede goals easily, it will help our forwardline put pressure on opponents by attacking freely, which will ultimately increase our chances of winning games not only in this tour but also in our upcoming tournaments,” added the 28-year-old, who recently played her 250th international match.

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Deep also aided India’s comeback in the third game, converting a penalty corner to tie the game after Australia took the lead.

Sharing her thoughts on scoring the equaliser, Ekka said, “It felt great to score that goal as it came at a crucial time and also helped the team make a comeback in the game. We started the match on a solid note and even kept most of the possession in the opening quarter to control the tempo of the match. However, we conceded a goal in the second quarter which put us on the backfoot, following which we were desperate to display our fighting spirit and find the equaliser. So, in that sense, I feel lucky to deliver it for my team when they need it the most.”

The matches will be telecast live on DD Sports. The matches will also be streamed on the YouTube channel of Prasar Bharati and will also be streamed on FanCode.

India tour of Australia schedule (as per Hockey Australia):

May 18, Thursday: India 2-4 Australia

May 20, Saturday: India 2-3 Australia

May 21, Sunday: India 1-1 Australia

May 25, Thursday: India vs Australia A at 14.45 IST

May 27, Saturday: India vs Australia A at 14.45 IST