Gold Coast, April 12: The Indian women's hockey team failed to capitalise on two goal-scoring chances in the dying minutes to lose the Commonwealth Games semifinal 0-1 to triple defending champions Australia, here on Thursday (April 12). Desperate to neutralise Grace Stewart's third-quarter strike, India's coach Harendra Singh recalled goalkeeper Savita Punia when only four minutes were left in the match but his players could not cash in on the chances that came their way.
FT| Despite a close-fought encounter, the Indian Eves sustain a 0-1 defeat against the @Hockeyroos in the Semi-Final of the @GC2018 Commonwealth Games. The team will now play its 3/4th place play-off against England on 14th March. pic.twitter.com/fWZCWUcgHo— Hockey India (@TheHockeyIndia) April 12, 2018
Navneet Kaur missed out on a sitter from a Monika Malik cross from the right flank while captain Rani Rampal could not slam in a through pass from Vandana Kataria. India will now clash with England for a bronze medal on Saturday.
The play was mostly restricted to India's half with Australia dominating the contest with high ball possession. Coach Harendra was not an unhappy man after the match. "We lost but the team did not play badly. A 1-0 result against a team like australia on home turf is not that bad. We have been finishing 5th in the past two games. So it's nice to be in medal bracket this time. Let's see how it goes from here," said Harendra.
For some reason, the coolness of Indian heads I was talking about is now waning as they cross the halfline and plummets further after entering the AUS 25. I can understand the worry of 0-1, but why hurrying with still 11 min left. That's a long time in #hockey. #INDvAUS— Jaspreet Sahni (@JaspreetSSahni) April 12, 2018
The Indian team saved two back-to-back penalty corners in the early minutes of first quarter after Vandana created a move inside the Australian striking circle. Her move, however, lacked support to pose a serious threat.
The Indian defence remained solid to keep an aggressive Australia at bay, though, passing upfront was not fluent for the Rani-led team. The hosts kept attacking the Indian half and Grace Stewart missed a shot in front of the Indian goal but the Indians came out of the first quarter unscathed.
Indian custodian Savita deflected a furious hit from an Australian player early into the second quarter. A yellow card to Navneet meant that the Indian team was down to 10 women for five minutes. The defending champions remained offensive, restricting the play to India's half but still could not penetrate the opposition defence as the second quarter too remained goal-less.
Australia earned their third penalty corner of the match in the third quarter but an onrushing Deep Grace Ekka foiled the attempt. Stewart broke the deadlock by tapping a high cross, straight into the Indian goal. India earned back-to-back penalty corners in the fourth quarter but squandered both as the opportunity to score an equaliser went abegging. They got another PC but could not utilise that also.