The Indian women’s hockey team captain Rani Rampal said the team is heading in the right direction after their Olympic Test Event triumph. India put up a brilliant performance at the recently-concluded Olympic Test Event in Tokyo as they defeated hosts Japan 2-1 in the final to win the competition. They went completely unbeaten in the entire competition.

Captain Rampal seemed extremely pleased with the way the side played against higher-ranked teams such as World No 2 Australia, World No 11 China and World No 14 Japan.

“It was incredible to remain unbeaten throughout the Olympic Test Event. The hard work put in by all the players in the various training camps ahead of the tournament paid dividends. A victory in this tournament gives us a lot of confidence ahead of the Tour of England and the FIH Olympic Qualifiers,” said Rampal.

“We still have to improve in certain areas, but the team is confident of booking a place in the Tokyo Olympics. Our preparations have been excellent so far and we have to just keep building on our game.

“The Olympic Test Event was very helpful to understand the level of our game as we played against some strong teams including World No 2 Australia. Our only aim is to qualify for the Olympics and I feel we are on the right track,” she added.

Rampal, who was named the Best Player at the FIH Women’s Series Finals Hiroshima 2019, said that the side is a well-settled unit and all players are extremely clear about their roles.

“After wonderful performances at the FIH Women’s Series Finals Hiroshima 2019 and the Olympic Test Event, our team consists of players who are very clear about their roles, and perform them industriously on the field.

“We have gained momentum at the right time and have to keep improving our skills as the team approaches the FIH Olympic Qualifiers,” said Rampal.

India started the tournament with a superb 2-1 victory over hosts 14 Japan, before playing out a 2-2 draw with Australia in their second match. India then drew 0-0 with China in their last round-robin match.

Rampal, who has been leading the Indian side for more than two years, was all praise for drag-flicker Gurjit Kaur, who was the top-scorer of the competition with three goals.

“Gurjit has improved immensely in the last couple of years. She was the top-scorer at the FIH Women’s Series Finals Hiroshima 2019 and the Olympic Test Event. Gurjit is a vital player for us as a drag-flicker and I am delighted to see her in form ahead of important tournaments for us,” said Rampal.

(with PTI inputs)