Rourkela: The Indian women’s hockey team failed to take advantage of an early lead and a narrow 1-2 loss to China, starting on a disappointing note in the Rourkela leg of the FIH Hockey Pro League 2023/24 at the Birsa Munda Stadium here on Monday.
The Indian women’s hockey team took the lead through Sangita Kumari but a brace from Gu Bingfeng (14’, 53’) helped China win the match 2-1.
India took the lead early in the first quarter courtesy of an extraordinary cross from forward Vandana Katariya and an equally remarkable finish from Sangita Kumari (7’).
Both the teams maintained their tempo and were awarded multiple penalty corners. While India wasn’t able to convert any of their three penalty corner opportunities, China made full use of their second one as Gu Bingfeng (14’) equalised with a little over a minute left in the first quarter.
China enjoyed greater possession of the ball in the second quarter but the Indian defence was resilient in not allowing the Chinese to connect the dots and take the lead. With about 10 minutes left in the second quarter, China were awarded a penalty corner but Indian captain and goalkeeper Savita made a good save.
The Indian Women’s Hockey Team immediately broke into a counterattack and found themselves with an opportunity to score courtesy of another penalty corner. However, the Chinese defence didn’t let up as the half ended with both teams still having one goal apiece. China were awarded a penalty corner early in the third quarter but a referral from a vigilant Neha Goyal led to that decision being reversed as the ball had hit the shin of Chinese player Huang Haiyan.
India kept good control of the ball in the third quarter while the Chinese played deep inside their own half preventing the Indians from breaking through their defence. The stalemate continued with neither team finding the back of the net in the third quarter. Both teams came close to taking the lead on numerous occasions but it was China who struck their second goal after being awarded a penalty stroke. GU Bingfeng (53’) stepped up to take the penalty stroke and made no mistake as the Chinese had their noses in front with about seven minutes left on the clock.
India were awarded two successive penalty corners in the 55th minute but the Chinese defence kept the ball out in both instances. China held onto their slender lead of one goal as they went on to win the match 2-1.
The Indian women’s hockey team will next take on the Netherlands on Wednesday.