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Afro-Asian Games: India win women's hockey gold

India beat South Africa 5-4 in a tie-breaker on Thursday to win the gold, reports Ajai Masand.

othersports Updated: Oct 31, 2003 12:29 IST

The Indian women’s hockey team won gold as Maharaj Kishan Kaushik’s ‘tiny’ girls did the unthinkable, defeating South Africa 5-4 via tie-breaker on Thursday.

The Indians had been itching for revenge right from the day they were tamed 1-3 by the Proteas in a group match, but none quite gave them a chance against the sturdy opponents.

All credit to goalkeeper Helen Mary Innocent who stood rock-solid, blunting the South African edge with her presence of mind.

It was because of her that India could finally win gold. But for Helen Mary, the hosts would have lost by at least half a dozen goals.

She resisted the most dangerous South African attempts — especially from Pietie Coetzee and Jennifer Wilson — and thwarted not less than six penalty corners to frustrate South Africa.

On the field, the South Africans controlled the midfield all through, but could manage the goal only in the 36th minute through the fourth penalty corner when Jennifer Wilson deflected Shane Wehmeyer’s shot.

Suman Bala equalised in the 50th minute off the third penalty corner when her straight shot entered the goalmouth before goalkeeper Caroline Birt could dive.

Pietie Coetzee and Jennifer Wilson came close to scoring on at least another half a dozen occasions in the second session too, but Helen Mary stood steadfast.

Extra time went goalless with the Indians crowding the defence and leaving little room for the South Africans to manoeuvre. Finally, in the penalty shootout, Helen Mary palmed off two strokes, diving to her right. The Indians missed one through Subhadra Pradhan.

Result: (Final) India 5 (Suman Bala 50th; Jasjeet Kaur, Surinder Kaur, Jyoti Kullu, Sanggai Chanu) beat South Africa 4 (Jennifer Wilson 36th; Sharne Webber, Jennifer Wislon and Lindsay Carlisle).

First Published: Oct 30, 2003 22:20 IST