India capped off a dominant display with a 5-0 victory over Poland at the FIH Women’s Series Finals in Hiroshima, Japan on Sunday.
Right from the outset India were on the attack, their left side causing problems for Poland’s defence with regularity. Poland were enjoying the lion’s share of possession, but India were causing more problems with their speed in attack.
The best chance to open the scoring came to India in the final seconds of the quarter. Monika and Rani Rampal capitalised on some slack Polish defending to link up on the left wing. The latter’s cross was deftly touched on by Navneet Kaur lurking in the D towards Neha Goyal stationed at Poland’s goalmouth. Her deflection was deftly saved by Gabara in Poland’s goal and the teams went into the break goalless.
India were more dominant in the second quarter of the game. Their 12 circle entries in that single quarter were more than what Poland managed in the entirety of the game. India’s high-pressing strategy put Poland’s defenders constantly under stress as they looked to play the ball out quickly, often inaccurately, and turned over possession in crucial areas with regularity.
India reaped their reward soon. Put under pressure by Sunita Lakra, Poland faltered in playing out from the back, and the ball fell to Navjot Kaur on the left. Her cross was inch perfect, directed towards the far post, where Jyoti deflected it in, giving India a deserved lead.
With the opener, the floodgates had opened. India’s unrelenting pressure kept Poland restricted within their own half – often defending right outside the circle. India won a flurry of penalty corners in the final five minutes of the quarter. From one of them, Vandana Katariya pounced on a loose ball – after Gurjit’s dragflick had been saved by Gabara – to score India’s second. From another, Gurjit capitalised on her own, slotting the ball into the bottom left corner, to give India a three-goal lead as they went into halftime.
Despite the vast gap in the scoreline, India never looked to drop gears, constantly haranguing, and pressuring Poland in possession, and attacking in numbers when they had it. Chances kept falling, and most of them were coming from the productive trio of Monika, Rani and Navneet on the left. India won a stroke in the 35th minute, and Gurjit duly dispatched it to score her second and India’s fourth of the game. It was with that lead the team went into the final break.
The final quarter was an ill-tempered affair, both teams reduced to ten at times as players were carded. India held firm control over the game though, their regular circle penetrations enough to keep Poland in defensive mode. Gurjit came close to getting a hat-trick, her drag flick bouncing off the crossbar in the 53rd minute.
India’s fifth came via brilliant stick work from Navneet Kaur in the 56th minute. Navneet picked up the ball with her back to goal at the top of the Poland circle, turned away from her marker with ease and unleashed a shot into the bottom corner. Gabara got a hand to it, but the power of the shot was too much for her to save. It was the final bit of action as India got home comfortable 5-0 victors.
India’s next match is against Fiji on 18 June.