Wrapping up...

Too much pressure throughout the match. Harendra Singh looked tensed, and was yelling out instructions all the time. He told the team in the last quarter not to be hurried and to intercept well, pass and penetrate when they were hitting the ball in the air frequently. And, when the team seemed to take the foot off the pedal after Rani’s goal, he asked them to keep going.

This win also means India are in the semi-finals. What a comeback it has been by the Indian women after the surprising defeat to Wales in their first match. They blanked Malaysia 4-1, then stunned England 2-1. The win against South Africa, they would’ve expected to come easier than this. But pressure games like this ahead of the knockouts are in a way good. Here’s the points table:-

Match stats:-

“I can watch that goal all day. Not just for the world class finish by Rani Rampal, but for the build-up from their own half and the assist by Vandhana,” says Viren Rasquinha from the studio. 

04:26 pm, India 1 - 0 South Africa: INDIA WIN! Through to the semi-finals. Was a pressure game throughout. Both dressing rooms were anxious. The momentum see-sawed. Penalty corners missed, shots hitting the bar. But, Rani Rampal made all the difference with her second-half goal.

04:21 pm, India 1 - 0 South Africa: Biting nails now. Penalty corner for South Africa. Wait, is it? No, it’s a referral. If South Africa get it, it will perhaps be their last chance to score in this match.

Okay, no penalty corner. Two and a half minutes left in this game.

04:17 pm, India 1 - 0 South Africa: Indian coach Harendra Singh still look tensed. For, South Africa’s desperate to score after Rani’s goal. They have five odd minutes to fend off the South African attack. Or can they score another one?

04:11 pm, India 1 - 0 South Africa: Amidst the frenzy, it looks as if Rani Rampal has frozen time. For, she coolly collects the ball, turns around and flicks it straight into the South African net. What a way to break the deadlock in the game.

04:10 pm, India 1 - 0 South Africa: GOAL! And, the captain puts the team in the front.

End of third quarter, India 0 - 0 South Africa: Another quarter ends, the stalemate remains. Apart from South Africa’s three missed penalty corners and Gurjit’s strike that almost gave India the lead, nothing much to talk about.

“Intercept, keep rotating, penetrate. We have all the time,” coach Harendra Singh tells the team as they leave for the all-important final quarter. India will still qualify to the next stage if they avoid defeat.

03:59 pm, India 0 - 0 South Africa: Oh, almost! India miss taking the lead by a few centimeters. Gurjit Kaur’s thunderous strike off the penalty corner hits hard on the aluminium bar and deflects. Tension all around.

03:55 pm, India 0 - 0 South Africa: Shift in momentum. Despite missing three back-to-back penalty corners, it is South Africa who are looking dangerous since the beginning of this half. Coach Harendra doesn’t look too happy in the dressing room.

03:47 pm, India 0 - 0 South Africa: Three penalty corners, three misses by South Africa. The last one was saved superbly by the Indian keeper. It’s still 0-0 in this game.

“Dominating possesion, but not that clinical going forward. The 0-0 scoreline not the most comfortable for scenario here for India,” says former men’s hockey team captain Viren Rasquinha from the studio.

First half ends, India 0 - 0 South Africa: The proverbial momentum’s with the Indian girls. They have looked more aggressive and made more inroads than their South African counterparts. But credit to South Africa, who have been very solid and cleared the ball away at times of danger. Here are the first half stats:

03:32 pm, India 0 - 0 South Africa: South Africa haven’t had too many chances in this quarter. India looks like the team that will score first in this crucial encounter.

03:27 pm, India 0 - 0 South Africa: Indians are making good runs, deftly dispossessing the South African women, but finishing hasn’t been clinical so far. Too many balls in the air.

03:23 pm, India 0 - 0 South Africa: Oh no, was that a chance? Vandana could have put India ahead. She was too close to the net. Wasn’t a terrible miss that she’d rue but an opportunity missed, nevertheless.

End of first quarter, India 0 - 0 South Africa: Nothing much to separate between the sides in the first quarter. Both teams had one chance at goal. But the keepers made sure the opponents didn’t take advantage of a defensive lapse.

03:13 pm: Defensive lapse by India almost cost them! But they somehow managed to keep the ball out. It’s still 0-0.

03:05 pm: Solid start by India, no threats of a goal so far. Rani and company look aggressive though. They are desperately looking for an early lead.

02:55 am: This is a mighty crucial game for India because qualification is at stake! South Africa will sneak past them in to the semis if they win today. India MUST avoid defeat first, a big win would help top the POOL as well.

02:50 am: Hello all and welcome to the live blog of Indian women’s hockey team’s final group stage match in Gold Coast. Their opponents today is South Africa.