Wrapping it up
The penalty corner in the last minute of the third quarter has made all the difference. This was a battle between two defensive powerhouses. Japan never came close to scoring a field goal. But their passing was superb today and India’s below-par, which let them down in the crucial phases of the match. There was a great chance – India’s last – with 15 seconds left in the game but Vandana and Rani couldn’t capitalise on it. This defeat also means India have missed the direct entry to the Tokyo Olympics, like their male counterparts, they need to go through a grind now to get there.
IT’S ALL OVER FOR INDIA! Their wait for a second Asian Games gold medal continues. Japan, meanwhile, create history by winning their first-ever Asian Games gold medal.
Fourth quarter (1 minute to go) India 1-2 Japan: Hopes are dying for India. Japan are happy to pass the ball around, count down till the blow of the hooter. The Indians have subbed their goalie Savita to have an extra attacking option.
Fourth quarter (2 minutes to go) India 1-2 Japan: Excellent marking by the Japanese defence. They haven’t let any of the Indian attackers come into their circle. But Indians have looked for someone to produce a moment of magic to get past the solid Japanese defence. But no one has been able to do that so far.
Fourth quarter (4 minutes to go) India 1-2 Japan: Dear oh dear, Monika gets a yellow card. Which means India will be down to 10 players on the field till the end of the match.
Fourth quarter (5 minutes to go) India 1-2 Japan: Once again, India fail to pass well to get the ball inside the Japanese circle. Time’s running out for them.
Fourth quarter (7 minutes to go) India 1-2 Japan: Motomi Kawamura gets a green card. Can India take advantage of the 10-women Japan in the next two minutes?
Fourth quarter (9 minutes to go) India 1-2 Japan: Japan, at the moment, are winning the midfield battles and haven’t allowed India of dangerous runs into their circle.
Fourth quarter (11 minutes to go) India 1-2 Japan: Play’s been concentrated in the middle of the pitch for the last couple of minutes.
Fourth quarter (13 minutes to go) India 1-2 Japan: Passing, once again, has been a little sub-par today from the Indians. They, from the right flank, have played too close to the sideline sending the ball out. Or, they have played long passes that haven’t reached their teammates. Need to do better than that.
Fourth quarter begins. Japan’s down to 10 women for the next two minutes following a green card. Can the Indians capitalise?
GOAL! Superb variation by Japan again. After trapping the injection, the ball is pushed to the left and the Indians are wrong-footed. Motomi Kawamura drives the ball into the bottom right corner to score Japan’s second goal. Now India have to equalise in the next 15 minutes to keep their gold medal hopes alive.
Third quarter (1 minutes to go) India 1-1 Japan: Ooh, this is interesting! A last-minute PC for Japan.
Third quarter (2 minutes to go) India 1-1 Japan: Both teams desperately search for the lead. This has been a riveting contest.
Third quarter (5 minutes to go) India 1-1 Japan: Deepika sprints swiftly, dribbles the ball well and, evades the two Japnese defenders, who tried to crowd her, and makes a tomahawk that goes in the air. The umpires sense danger and award Japan a free hit.
Third quarter (7 minutes to go) India 1-1 Japan: The third quarter, so far, has been even. Both teams are stealing the balls from each other and making inroads into each others’ defence.
Third quarter (10 minutes to go) India 1-1 Japan: Vandana and Navjot make a great counterattack, exploding into the Japanese circle. Two on three situation. But the Japanese goalie Megumi Kageyama comes forward and clears the danger.
Third quarter (13 minutes to go) India 1-1 Japan: Japan’s using their free hits well. Their turnarounds are good too. Both teams have started the third quarter at a good pace.
Alright folks, the teams are out for the third quarter.
Half time stats:-
End of second quarter, India 1-1 Japan: So, the scores are level again after that superb counterattacking goal by India. They’d breathe easy. They have looked the better side in the second quarter. But, overall, this has been an even contest so far.
Second quarter (3 minutes to go) India 1-1 Japan: India’s passes are now short and swift. The Japanese are finding it a little tougher to stop the Indian attack.
GOAL! Superb counter-attacking goal for India. Navneet Kaur and Navjot Kaur play a one-two before the former reverse hits the ball to Neha Goyal waiting at the goal mouth. Neha makes no mistake she pushes the ball in. Great team work.
Second quarter (7 minutes to go) India 0-1 Japan: The Japanese defence has been marginally better than India’s. Or at least that’s how it looks like because of the imprecise passing inside the circle by India.
Second quarter (9 minutes to go) India 0-1 Japan: India’s been quick to counterattack. They are running quick, but the control’s been lacking today. The passing, especially, lacks precision.
Second quarter (11 minutes to go) India 0-1 Japan: Both teams stealing the balls from each other. No real threat of a goal in the last two minutes.
Second quarter (13 minutes to go) India 0-1 Japan: India are not holding on to the ball. And, their tactics of long passes don’t seem to be working. Japan have been able to steal the ball easily and launch into counterattacks.
End of first quarter, India 0-1 Japan: Japan have the cushion of an early lead and they will be controlling the game till India equalise. The Indians need to score as soon as possible to get off the pressure of catching up in a big final.
First quarter (2 minutes to go) India 0-1 Japan: Navneet makes a great run, evading defenders and plays a longball to Vandana Katariya for deflecting into the goal. But Vandana can’t get to the ball.
GOAL! Japan draw first blood in their first Penalty Corner. A drag-flick by Shihori Oikawa takes the deflection of Shimizu Minami’s stick and beats Savita. And, Japan are ahead in this game!
First quarter (5 minutes to go) India 0-0 Japan: 10 minutes into the first quarter and India win their first Penalty Corner! Gurjit Kaur makes a drag-flick, similar to the one that won the semi-final for India. But the Japanese keeper makes a great save.
First quarter (7 minutes to go) India 0-0 Japan: The Indian defence is caught napping. Looks like they were expecting a foul and stopped playing. The Japanese attacker Aki Yamada tried to capitalise and went for goal. But the keeper Savita is up to the task. Saves it without much ado.
First quarter (9 minutes to go) India 0-0 Japan: Good, fast-paced hockey by both teams. India had started a smidgen slower in their previous two games. They look confident out there today.
First quarter (11 minutes to go) India 0-0 Japan: First real attempt at the goal by India. That was too close. Rani Rampal makes a superb interception and passes the ball to Navneet Kaur. But the Japanese defence, somehow, manage to clear the danger.
First quarter (13 minutes to go) India 0-0 Japan: Early nerves it looks like for India. A couple of awry passes. Japan breach the Indian circle, come close to scoring.
06:30 pm Alright folks, national anthems done and we are ready to go...
06:25 pm The teams are out, getting ready for the national anthems. Novy Kapadia informs us on-air that the Indian women’s team can win their first Asian Games gold medal on artificial turf. The last time they won gold, in 1982, New Delhi, the match was played on grass.
06:22 pm Also, guys, remember that a victory tonight will not only get India a historic gold medal but also a spot in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
06:00 pm Just half an hour for the final to start. Before it does, you can read about how the superb drag flick of Gurjit Kaur in the last quarter of the semi-final against China put India in the final.
[T]here comes a moment during a game, like it did on Wednesday against China in the Asian Games women’s hockey semi-final, when Gurjit compels your attention. It is now up to her to save her team or to make it win.
From the back, she emerges to take the injection of a Penalty Corner. The following few seconds, ladies and gents, belong to her.
This is the Gurjit Kaur Time.
05:50 pm Indian coach Sjoerd Marijne said this after the women’s World Cup, a few days before the Asian Games:-
“Defending is discipline and discipline is good. It was well organised. You see the big countries – the ones that are winning the medals, men or women, have good defence and good PC conversion. And, if you have good defence, you can create more chances. For me, it doesn’t work the other way around, wherein you create a lot of opportunities but no good defence. I was happy with that and the next step is to create more – which we will do at the Asian Games.”
And, India have scored 39 goals so far in the Asian Games, conceding just one.
05:40 pm Women’s hockey in India’s been on the upward curve over the last five years. They have two silver medals (2013, 2018) and a gold (2016) at the Asian Champions Trophy. In the Asia Cup, they won gold last year and a bronze in 2013. In the last Asian Games, they finished with a bronze and have bettered that this time. A gold medal awaits them today.
ROAD TO FINAL
India: beat Indonesia 8-0, beat Kazakhstan 21-0, beat Korea 4-1, beat Thailand 5-0, beat China 1-0 (in the semi-final)
Japan: beat Chinese Taipei 11-0, beat Hong Kong China 6-0, beat China 4-2, beat Malaysia 3-1, beat Korea 2-0 (in the semi-final)
05:00 pm Evening, fellas! Big game today, not only for Rani Rampal and her team but also for Indian hockey. With the shocking defeat of the men’s team in yesterday’s quarter-final, plenty of hopes are pinned on the women’s team to bring home a gold medal in hockey. And, Rani and girls, based on their form and ranking, are the favourites to beat Japan today. They have been consistent, had some big wins and are probably aware that the last Indian women’s team to win a gold at the Asian Games was the one played in New Delhi, three and a half decades ago. History beckons!