Defending champions India will face their first real test of the Women Asian Champions Trophy hockey tournament when they take on continent’s top ranked team in their second league match on Wednesday.
India made a resounding start to their campaign in the second stint of coach Sjoerd Marijne by hammering Japan 4-1 as they controlled the midfield and created many scoring opportunities through out the 60 minues.
However, China are extremely quick on the counter and have the ability to hurt the Indians if they slack even a bit in the midfield. The world number 8 team, who India defeated in last year’s Asia Cup final in a penalty shootout, registered a 3-1 win over Malaysia in their opening encounter.
In fact, India had defeated the Chinese 4-1 in the group stage of the Asia Cup and the last two results would give them the confidence against the pacy opponents.
To their credit, the Indian team has looked solid in defence not just in their opening match but also during the Commonwealth Games in Australia in April. And the lung opener against Japan was a proof that the change of guard – Marijne coming back to coach them – after the Games hasn’t really changed their structure and playing style.
India is without their regular skipper and striker Rani Rampal in the tournament but Naveet Kaur stepped up to fill in her boots against Japan, scoring her first hat-trick on the international stage and would be expected to once again team up well with Vandana Kataria and Punam Rani to find the goals.