India’s miserable run in women’s hockey continued on Wednesday, with the team losing 1-2 to defending champions Australia at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium.
After splitting points with Scotland in their opening Pool A match on Monday, much was expected from India, silver medallists at the last Games, against the young Australian side, but they failed to live up to expectations before a moderate crowd.
The defeat put India in a tight position for a semifinal berth. They now need to win their remaining matches against Trinidad and Tobago and South Africa by big margins to stay in contention.
After missing two open chances in the second half, Rani Rampal struck a face-saving goal in the penultimate minute, but it made little difference as the champions had stretched their lead to 2-0 through Shelly Liddelow (11th) and Megan Rivers (59th). What worked against the Indians was their lack of co-ordination, especially at the front and the failure to convert penalty corners.
The crucial tie turned into a battle between custodian Dipika Murthy Gongala and the Hockeyroos. Undoubtedly, Murthy saved India the blushes, thwarting five chances. Saba Anjum also played her part nicely but didn’t get support from her mates. In fact, India surprised with a terrific start, forcing the mighty Aussies back to their den and earned as many as four penalty corners in the first 10 minutes.
But, after Liddelow’s well-planned goal off a cross from Kate Hollywood changed the scene dramatically.
Even changing ends didn’t bring respite for the hosts as they continued to struggle for possession.
Barring the goal by Rani in the 69th minute, off a blunder by defender Jessica Nicole Arrold, India failed to test their rivals. Australia lead Pool A with six points while
India and Scotland have one each.
Earlier in the day, England survived a scare before beating Canada 4-1 to notch up their second consecutive win in Pool B. Canada struck early from a penalty stroke by Diana Roemer (4th), but England fought back to score through Chloe Rogers (19th), Alex Danson (39th), Charlotte (48th) and Crista Cullen (68th) to hand Canada their second straight defeat.