Rani on course, India maintain No. 2 Argentina


Buenos Aires, February 1

The Indian women’s hockey team put up a spirited performance to hold world No. 2 Argentina to a 1-1 draw and end the tour of the country on a high.

Skipper Rani struck for India in the 35th minute while Emilia Forcherio scored for the home

team through a penalty stroke with five minutes left on the clock.

This was India’s fourth scheduled match against Argentina after the third match — which was to be played on Saturday — was abandoned due to incessant rains. Earlier in the tour, India had drawn 2-2 and 1-1 against the Argentina junior team and lost 1-2 and 2-3 to Argentina’s B team. Against the Argentina senior side, India lost 2-3 and 0-2 in the first two matches.

Intent

The Indians played with determination as they went to secure the elusive win against Argentina in their last match of the tour.

But the experienced home team continued to showcase a dominant performance, getting off the blocks in the first quarter with a well-structured attack.

The early pressure on India’s defence line worked for Argentina as they earned two penalty corners within three minutes of the first quarter. But India goalkeeper Savita was up to the challenge and made brilliant saves to deny the hosts.

India found a good opportunity to score in the 11th minute when they were awarded a penalty corner, but couldn’t execute it.

Three minutes into the second quarter, Rani found an opportunity to score when experienced forward Vandana Katariya assisted her but a valiant Argentine defence held strong, covering every inch in the striking circle.

Solid Savita

In the following minutes, Argentina won two penalty corners but Savita stood like a rock in front of the goal.

Skipper Rani finally capitalised on the opportunity to score when India made an aggressive start to the third quarter. It was Vandana again who found Rani poised in front of the goal and fed her the ball from the right flank. Rani made no mistake in receiving the pass and sending the ball into the goal in the 35th minute.

India had two good opportunities to extend the lead in the 39th and 50th minutes, but wasted both the chances.

Argentina, on the other hand, pushed for goals and a body foul while defending a penalty corner in the 55th minute saw India concede a penalty stroke. From the resultant set-piece, Forcherio was on target to draw level.

Under pressure, India conceded two more penalty corners but Argentina could not utilise the opportunities. — TNS



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