Tokyo (Japan): The Indian women’s hockey team on Saturday defeated host Japan by 2-1 in their opening game of the Olympic Test Event here at Oi Hockey Stadium.
It was India, which took an early lead through their penalty corner specialist, Gurjit Kaur, in the 9th minute, but the hosts equalized in the 16th minute as Aki Mitsuhashi scored a field goal.
However, it was Gurjit who stepped up again in the 35th minute to convert yet another penalty corner which turned out to be the decisive goal in the match.
The Indians started the match well with aggressive intent and had a few opportunities in the opening ten minutes. It was in the 9th minute that the world number 10 team found themselves on the front foot, and ended up winning a penalty corner. The resulting drag-flick from Gurjit was struck beautifully and beat the Japanese goalkeeper Megumi Kageyama to give India an early lead.
Both the teams playing with 16 players in accordance to the Olympic Games guidelines, made swift and timely substitutions throughout the match, and it was in the 16th minute that Japan’s substitution worked for them as Aki Mitsuhashi finished off a great team goal to equalize the scores.
The 29-year-old Japanese combined well with her teammates and scored to make it a good watch for the spectators.
With the majority of the attacks coming from the Indian team, the Japanese sat back and looked to attack on the counter. The teams have played each other frequently in the past couple of years, which showed on the field as they understood each other’s tactics well, and it meant that the teams went into the half-time break level at 1-1.
The third quarter saw India dominating in the initial few minutes, and winning themselves another penalty corner in the 35th minute. A moment of magic from Gurjit saw India regain their one-goal advantage as the 23-year-old smashed the ball into the back of the net.
The hosts tried to look for another equalizer in the remaining minutes, but could not convert their opportunities into goals. Japan could not get the equalizing goal, while India defended resiliently in the closing stages to see out the victory.
With points on the board, the Indian team will now face Australia on August 18. (ANI)