Pro League 2023-24: Indian women’s hockey team goes down 1-2 to China

The Indian women’s hockey team began its campaign in the FIH Hockey Pro League 2023/24 with a 1-2 loss against Asian Games gold medallist China at the Kalinga Hockey Stadium, here on Saturday.

The Indian women’s hockey team began its campaign in the FIH Hockey Pro League 2023/24 with a 1-2 loss against Asian Games gold medallist China at the Kalinga Hockey Stadium, here on Saturday.

Experienced forward Vandana Katariya (15’) scored the first goal of the game for India but the Indians could not build on that early advantage as Wen Dan (40’) and Bingfeng Gu (52’) scored to complete the comeback victory for China.

The match began with India, who failed to qualify for the 2024 Paris Olympics last month, attempting to dictate the tempo with quick passes but they failed to create any significant goal threats.

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The first chance of the first quarter fell to China after a miscued clearance from India’s goalkeeper Savita, but China failed to capitalise. China’s Hua Liu was presented with a chance towards the end of the first quarter but her reverse shot flew wide of the post. As the game became stretched, Vandana Katariya dove to deflect Lalremsiami’s cross from the right wing to give India the lead in the final minute of the first quarter.

China answered by earning a penalty corner as soon as the second quarter began but Bichu Devi Kharibam and Ishika Chaudhary remained alert and diffused the threat to their goal.

China took the initiative as the second quarter progressed but India rebuffed China’s advances and attempted to hurt them on the occasional counterattack. However, both teams failed to create any significant openings and the first half ended 1-0 in India’s favour.

Sangita Kumari and Salima Tete combined for a quick give-and-go as the second half began, enabling Sangita to initiate a dangerous run across the baseline but she couldn’t find a teammate in the shooting circle and the chance went begging.

With five minutes to go in the third quarter, China’s Jiaqi Zhong dodged past a couple of Indian defenders and passed the ball to Wen Dan who dinked the ball over Savita to bring China back on level terms. India managed to earn a penalty corner in the last minute of the third quarter but they failed to score.

China shifted up a gear in the last quarter, pegging India back into their defensive half and eventually earning a penalty corner. After four re-awards, Bingfeng Gu pounced on a rebound and slapped the ball into the goal to give China the lead in the match.

India aimed to restore parity but were unable to make inroads towards that end. As the game drew to a close China were awarded a series of penalty corners but Savita stood tall in goal and the match ended 2-1 in China’s favour.

(IANS)

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