Indian women churned out an unispiring performance to go down 0-1 to Japan through a golden goal to finish fourth in hockey at the Asian Games on Wednesday.
Both halves were completely dominated by Japan and went goalless, before Keiko Manabe (78th minute) converted their 10th penalty corner to help her team win the bronze at the Aoti Hockey Field.
More than the loss, it is the team's failure to put up a fight that would be disturbing coach Sandeep Somesh. Had it not been for goalkeeper Dipika Murty's brilliant saves, India would have lost the match by half a dozen goals.
Japan was relentless in their raids on the Indian defence, which once again put up an unimpressive show. Missed passes, faulty clearances and ineffective tackling resulted in Japan getting as many as 10 penalty corners.
Dipika played with a lot of heart to save most of those chances, besides also foiling the attempted field golds. Japan's Kana Nagayama toyed with the Indian defence, showing quick feet and deft stickwork to reach the goalmouth, but failed to get past Dipika on a number of occasions.
If the Indian defence was falling apart, their midfield, too, was in disarray, while the foward line lacked the sting to make any constructive goal-bound move. Only two penalty corners came India's way and went abegging. Captain Surinder Kaur did her best to make the most of the few chances which came their way, but Japan's defence stood solid.
It was the second win for Japan, the 2006 Doha Games silver medallist, against India, having got the better of the sub-continent team in the league match.
India, which failed to win a medal at the Commonwealth Games at home in October, failed to retain the bronze they won at Doha and will be returning empty-handed.