Sunday, July 22, 2018

India 1-1 England: Five talking points

Savita once again was star of the show
Surprising the capacity crowd in the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre, Indian women hockey team help Olympics Champions England to a 1-1 draw. As expected by the fans, England had full command over the game, earning 9 penalty corners and having 15 shots on goal forcing India to defend deep. India stuck first in the second quarter of the game when Neha Goyal scored off a counter-attack. The goal shook both England players and fans watching the game as there was stunned silence from the crowd.


Half-time came with India hanging on to a 1-0 lead against the barrages of England attack. England continued their onslaught and they finally struck in the 4th quarter of the game when Lily Owsley got England level through a penalty corner in the 54th minute of play. There were no more goals in the game but there was plenty to talk about as the match ended.

Here are the talking points of the game:

1. India did not play negative hockey
After the match ended, England coach Danny Kerry said that India played negative hockey which is far from the truth. No doubt England were the better team against India, and it is evident from 9 penalty corners, 15 shots on target and 34 circle entries. In this situation what do you expect the opposition to do? Obviously, defend, and that India did during the game. It's not that India just played in the game in its own circle. India too had 10 circle entries and 4 shots on target during the match. If England coach Danny Kerry expected Indian team to invite England to score through every shot, this is just wrong. If not praise, he should have acknowledged India's defensive abilities, it is not easy to stop 8 penalty corners during the game.

2. Savita deserves more credit
Once again, Savita Punia was the saviour of the Indian team and it's often that whenever India faces a tough opposition, Savita stands tall and defends the goal like a rock. The game against England was another example of Savita's mastery between the goal. England was relentless with their attacks during the game and Savita was equally alert to guide the ball away from Indian goal. Even before she conceded the goal, Savita had made a fine save but had no chance when Deepika lost the ball. Conceding the goal did not shake her confidence and she continued to thwart England attacks till the end of the game.

3. England are still the favourites for World Cup
Result against India was not what the England team expected but despite a 1-1 draw, England still is the favourites for World Cup trophy. The performance of Susannah Townsend, Alex Danson and Lily Owsley against India deserved a rating of 10 and ever observant Maddie Hinch is enough to guide England to a final spot in the World Cup. Yes, they faltered in the game against India, but it was the first match of the tournament and they were not in their full stride. Alex Danson was playing like a 20-year-old player at the age of 33 years, cutting Indian team left, right and center. Indian team was always under pressure when Lily Owsley had the ball. The only cause of concern looks like Sophie Bray who was not at 100% fitness level. There were a couple of instances when Sophie lost the ball in attack and gave India an opportunity to counter-attack.

4. Not all Indian players are comfortable with the ball
To win the game, Indian players needed to do what Alex Danson and Lily Owsley were doing, running with the ball and getting past the opposition players and no Indian player expect Rani Rampal and to some extent, Vandana Kataria was able to do that. As soon as any Indian player received the ball, they wanted to pass the ball even before looking at the situation, which led to turnovers. If the players held on to the ball little bit more or even dodged a couple of England players, the result could have been different to what it is now. Most of the England players were committed in the attack and there were opportunities for Indian players to break free but lack of comfort on the ball and heavy marking of Rani Rampal meant, Indian team ended up giving the ball and facing yet another attack.

5. India are no pushovers either
One thing that the first match has proved is Indian team is not a push-over who came to the World Cup to make the numbers. Indian team right with England throughout the game despite spending most of the time defending. Indian team knew that they would not get many opportunities against this England side and they did most of the opportunity that they got during the game. After the match ended, when Indian coach Sjoerd Marijne was asked if he was pleased with the result, he responded by saying that the players were not pleased and the couple of them cried after the game due to the result. This just proves that Indian team has gone to the World Cup to get a result, to win.

India will play its next match against Ireland on 26th July. Ireland has started the tournament strongly by beating World no 7 USA in their first match of the game. It will be interesting to see what card Indian coach Sjored Marijne have up his sleeve.

Also read: 
Day 1 numbers of World Cup http://www.givemehockey.com/2018/07/women-hockey-world-cup-day-1-in-numbers.html

Photo exhibition on Women Hockey http://www.givemehockey.com/2018/07/reminisce-of-indian-women-hockey.html

(Image Source: Google Images)

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