Wrapping up

India were the underdogs coming into this match. They were up against a higher-ranked oppostion, in their turf. The challenge was too big. They might have lost. But they won’t be disappointed with the way they played. Their defence was tested by the powerful Aussie attack but they hardly yielded. They attacked superbly in the last quarter – they’d however wonder if they started to attack a little too late. But India need to put this defeat behind them and get ready for the bronze medal match against England, whom they have beaten in the group stage.

That’s all folks! Hope you have a good evening.

And, the Aussie juggernaut rolls on. They are yet to concede a goal in this tournament. The last 10 minutes or so, they were put under immense pressure by the Indians. But they had the answers to all the questions that India posed.

“This team can step out of the field with their heads held high. I remember two years ago when Australia beat India at Rio Olympics, 6-1. But the improvements this team has made in terms of physical fitness and stick skills is there for all to see, with new coach Harendra Singh.”
-Viren Rasquinha, former Indian captain.

Five of India’s six shots on goal came in the last quarter. They’d wonder if they attacked a little too late in the match. They were defending for the most part in the first three quarters. They played their best in the final quarter but the Australian defence, which hasn’t conceded a goal in the tournament, came good again.

06:10 pm India 0-1 Australia: India’s gold medal hopes are over. Australia maintain their undefeated streak. They haven’t conceded a goal so far in the tournament. Two close misses in the last five minutes. Rani tried her signature ‘swivel and strike’ to score a last-minute equaliser for her team. But that went wide too. Tough luck for the women in blue.

06:05 pm India 0-1 Australia: Passing has not been up to the mark for India. Too many balls being hit out in the desperation to get to the Australian circle. We enter the last five minutes of this match. The women in blue need a miracle because the Aussie defence looks impenetrable so far.

06:00 pm India 0-1 Australia: Penalty corner for India. But Australia keep it away without much trouble. Time’s running out for India. Less than 12 minutes remaining.

Third quarter (completely belonged to Australia) stats:-

End of third quarter: Final quarter. Trailing by a goal. Against a higher-ranked team. In their backyard. In a knockout game. The odds are heavily stacked against India. But in this quarter, under immense pressure, they must play better than they have ever played. Can Rani and Co pull off a heist?

05:43 pm India 0-1 Australia: India under immense pressure ahead of the final quarter. They need to counter-attack and quickly equalise. They can’t keep defending. Australia’s too good on the attack.

5:40 pm India 0-0 Australia: GOAL! Grace Stewart scores for the Aussies.

5:32 pm India 0-0 Australia: Can India be the first team to score against the Aussies this tournament? We’ll find out soon. The second half is underway.

5:31 pm India 0-0 Australia: Australia in this tournament so far:

vs Canada 1-0

vs Ghana 5-0

vs New Zealand 0-0

vs Scotland 2-0

Goals scored: 8, Goals conceded: 0

End of first half, India 0-0 Australia: Like the first-semifinal, we go to the half-time at 0-0. Indians have fended off the Australians well. But they need to take control of the game in the next half though. They have scored more in the second half in the tournament. And, here, too, they will have to. Here are the half-time stats:-

05:16 pm India 0-0 Australia: India, playing with 10 women, have managed to thwart the Australians after Navneet Kaur’s yellow card (off the field for five minutes). But they make very few opportunities to score. So far, they have been on the backfoot. But one great counterattack is all it takes.

05:08 pm India 0-0 Australia: Second quarter starts. After the first few minutes, it’s been Australia who have been controlling the game. Here are the stats:-

End of first quarter, India 0-0 Australia: Anxious few minutes for India there. Australia looked like they would go into the second quarter with a 1-0 lead. But the defenders have been good. But they shouldn’t let the Aussies dictate the game.

5:00 pm India 0-0 Australia: Australians are making more entries to the Indian circles. The Indian defence is being put to a tough test. So far they haven’t cracked. But India need to get their passes right. Passing has not been up to the mark tonight.

4:55 pm India 0-0 Australia: Good save by Savita, thwarting the danger away from Australia’s penalty corner. Both teams look good so far.

4:50 pm India 0-0 Australia: Save by the Australians. India trying to sneak one in early. That was close. But no panic by the Aussies. Kept away without much trouble. Good start for the women in blue.

4:47 pm India 0-0 Australia: And, off we go...

4:45 pm Also, India have found it tough to convert the PCs. Their numbers so far:

First match vs Wales: 1/15

Second match vs Malaysia: 2/7

Third match vs England: 0/6

Fourth match vs South Africa: 0/2

Total conversions: 1/30

Need to rectify against a defensive stronghold like Australia.

4:42 pm For India, it’s important that they get an early lead. In two hours of the first halves they played against the four teams, India have collectively scored a goal (against Malaysia) and conceded three. They have invariably gone into the second half in all the games with the pressure of either catching up or scoring to consolidate their position.

4:40 pm Asian Cup title for the first time in 13 years. Olympics qualification for the first time in 36 years. This Indian team, led by Rani Rampal, can script another piece of history if they upset Australia tonight. But it will be very tough against Australia, who haven’t conceded a goal yet in this tournament.

4:32 pm: Playing XI:-

India: Deep Grace Ekka, Lilima Minz, Monika, Namita Toppo, Navneet Kaur, Nikki Pradhan, Rani Rampal (C), Savita, Sunita Lakra, Sushila Pukhrambam, Vandana Katariya.

Australia: Edwina Bone, Jane Claxton, Ashlea Fey, Jodie Kenny, Stephanie Kershaw, Rachael Lynch, Karri MacMahon, Madri Ratcliffe, Gabrielle Nance, Emily Smith, Emily Hurtz.

4:31 pm Meanwhile, New Zealand have beaten England 2-1 in shootouts to qualify for the gold medal match.

4:22 pm Read the match preview, if you already haven’t.

“We have been playing attacking hockey against the strong teams as well, so it is important for us to make sure that we are grabbing our chances with both hands. We need to make sure that we are efficient against the Australians as we might not get too many chances because they are a strong team. Australia is a very strong team and they are playing at home so it will not be easy. But we are confident in ourselves and will give our best on the pitch for our country,” Indian skipper Rani Rampal ahead of the semi-final.

4:00 pm: Good evening, good evening. Getting ready for an exciting semi-final clash between India and Australia. Hope you are, too. This match, you don’t want to miss. For, this is going to be India’s biggest challenge in months. They are in good form and have won some tough games. But facing Australia in their backyard in the semi-final of a multi-sport event – that’s a big occasion. Nerves will play a huge role in this game as much as skills of the players.