Gold Coast: The Indian women’s hockey team rallied from a goal down to script a stunning 2-1 triumph over Olympic champions England in its third Pool A match of the 21st Commonwealth Games here on sunday.
India, aiming to do better than the fifth-place finish at the last two CWG editions, are now second on the points table behind England and look set to qualify for the semifinals.
Gurjit Kaur and Navneet Kaur sounded the board for India in the 42nd and 48th minute after England captain Alexandra Danson had put her team ahead just 35 seconds into the game.
“This is the first time we have beaten England, they are the Olympic champions so we are very happy,” India captain Rani Rampal said after the match.
“It’s always a special moment and achievement when you beat the Olympic champions. We’ve had very little chance to compete against them, and today was our day. We had to grab the chances and work hard,” she added.
The Indian women’s hockey team had started poorly in the event by going down to lower-ranked Wales but has since recovered, beating Malaysia and now England.
The team, after conceding the early goal, defended stoically in the first half to ensure that the gap didn’t widen between the two sides.
The commitment of the Indian players to thwart English attacks was exemplified by midfielder Nikki Pradhan, who took a blow to her face in a defending attempt. She was left with a bloodied mouth.
“It’s a little cut, she’s a strong girl, she’ll be okay,” said Gurjit of her teammate’s injury.
In the second half, Gurjit converted a penalty corner to bring her side back into the match. Just six minutes later, forward Navneet scored the winning field goal giving the team a morale-boosting victory.
“It is awesome, we worked hard the whole game. We defended hard in the first half and held them. We came out more aggressive in the second half and put on the pressure,” said Rani.
The 22-year-old Navneet said scoring against the Olympic champions is easily among the biggest moments of her career.
“It’s my first biggest memorable moment, I have more confidence now for the next games. We’re going to win all the matches from now on,” she asserted.
“We lost to Wales so this match was important for us to win, to get to the semifinals,” she added.
England skipper Danson was thoroughly disappointed by her team’s performance.
“We didn’t play our best. Credit to India, they took their chances,” she said. (PTI)