Indian women blanked Azerbaijan 3-0 in the inaugural Test of the four-match series on Sunday, but the team's basic problem — lack of finishing inside the circle — persisted during the 70 minutes of play.
The home team, playing in front of empty stands, missed at least half-a-dozen scoring opportunities in the first half, and an equal number in the second session, indicating a lot needs to be done if these girls aim to achieve the London Olympic berth.
But he didn't divulge how long it would take to make the forward line more potent. “Some players are coming back from injuries. They will take time to regain peak fitness,” he said.
Despite dominating the contest, the home team took 22 minutes to score its first goal, with Anuradha Devi sounding the boards.
Cashing in on penalty corners
The Indians then cashed in on two penalty-corners in the second half to increase the winning margin. Soundarya converted in the 51st minute, while Joydeep Kaur made no mistake in 62nd minute.
The team will play its second match on Monday.
The men's team will begin its five-match series against South Africa from Monday, and chief coach, Michael Nobbs, exuded confidence, saying, it was a trial to test the skills of the players.
“The players are fit. It would be a good opportunity for the probables to prove their worth,” he said.
The absence of midfielder Gurbaj Singh, who is nursing an injury, wouldn't affect the team strategy, said the coach, adding, “We have a replacement for him.”
Going through their paces
The South Africans went through their paces silently on Sunday, as there were no spectators at the stadium.
Barring a handful of federation officials, empty stands for the women's match and the SA team's practice session, were enough indication that there are few takers for hockey in the country.
Hockey India secretary-general, Narinder Batra, said, he had sent invitations to schools and colleges in the city. "I am surprised no one came," was all he said.