After two losses, Indian women rode on two goals from Rani Rampal to register their first win in a group match of the Hockey World League Semifinals on Wednesday.
Rani's brace was instrumental in India's 3-1 triumph over Poland at the KHC Dragons Stadium here.
Coming back into the team after a nine-month break due to injury, Rampal converted a penalty corner and then scored a fine field goal with a flash strike in open play to overcome the crowding tactics of the Polish rivals in a Pool B encounter.
The Indian eves were earlier beaten by Belgium (1-0) and New Zealand (5-0).
Indian women's hockey coach Mathias Ahrens seemed satisfied with the 3-1 victory. The scoreline was a repeat of the title encounter in the World Hockey League – Round Three, which was played in New Delhi earlier this year.
Ahrens, who took over as the national team's chief coach in May, said it was important for the Indian girls to get this victory to stay in contention for the quarterfinals from the five-team competition.
India will play world no.2 Australia in their final Pool B match on Saturday.
“The important thing is that the girls won and they played at a much fitter level,” said Ahrens.
“It was not an easy encounter for us. Poland had just focused on this match. The Polish team made no great effort in the previous two outings. All their preparations seemed to focus on us, while we came into the tournament with a much wider perspective,” the coach said.
Poland had also lost both their previous matches. They were outplayed by New Zealand (12-0) and Australia (9-0).
Rani was the livewire of the Indian attack, scoring two goals and setting up the third one.
India spiked any chances of a Polish resurgence when Vandana Katariya deflected Rani's shot into the boards in the 53rd minute to seal the team's first win in three outings.
Poland's only goal came through a defensive lapse by India, which saw the ball deflect into the boards off a diving defender's stick.