The Indian women’s hockey team won the Olympic Test event in Tokyo at the Oi Hockey Stadium on Wednesday as they registered a hard-fought 2-1 victory against Japan in the final of the competition.
Navjot Kaur (11’) and Lalremsiami (33’) scored the goals for the Indian side, ranked 10th in the world while Japan’s only goal of the match came in the 12th minute with Minami Shimizu getting on the scoresheet.
The first quarter of the match was an open affair with India looking the better side the first ten minutes of the match. They made the superiority count in the 11th minute when a brilliant move saw Navjot Kaur slot home the opener for India. The forward kept her nerve under pressure and produced a fine finish.
However, Japan hit back in the very next minute with a well-crafted field goal which was put into the back of the net by Minami Shimizu to make it 1-1.
The second quarter saw both the teams focus on their defensive structure, and tread carefully in the attacking third. India had a few chances in the first few minutes, with the likes of Vandana Katariya and Navjot Kaur combining well on the attacking front, but could not produce a goal-scoring opportunity.
At the other end, Japan also tried to create some opportunities of their own, with goalscorer Shimizu coming close to scoring her second of the match. However, India defended well to make sure that the teams went into the half-time break level at 1-1.
India made an aggressive start to the second half winning a Penalty Corner in the 33rd minute. Indian drag-flicker Gurjit Kaur’s effort was saved by the Japanese goalkeeper Megumi Kageyama, but the rebound fell to India’s young forward Lalremsiami, who made no mistake in putting the ball into the back of the net to make it 2-1 to India.
It was a blow to the hosts who then found it difficult to cope up with India’s rhythm, but after some tough battles in the midfield, the Japanese team earned themselves back-to-back PCs in the 42nd minute.
However, India’s defense was up to the task and made sure that they protected their lead. India also had a PC in the 45th minute, but could not extend their lead.
The pressure of the final made the final quarter a nervous affair. The first chance of the last quarter fell to India who were denied a third goal by Japanse goalkeeper Kageyama who made a diving save.
It was a nervy ending to the game with Japan winning back-to-back PCs, but Indian goalkeeper Savita made a great save on the second attempt to make sure that India closed out a 2-1 win.