This is our worst match,” admitted a fuming Indian women’s hockey chief coach Sjoerd Marijne minutes after his team crashed to its third consecutive defeat at the Oi stadium in Tokyo.
It summed up his team’s uninspiring performance on the day. Wednesday’s result, a 4-1 verdict in favour of defending champions Great Britain dented India’s chances of advancing from Pool A. Rani & team will have to win their remaining two matches – against Ireland and South Africa respectively—to keep their hopes alive.
Their campaign will end if they lose to Ireland and Great Britain win one of the remaining two matches. India, who finished 12th at Rio five years ago, didn’t seem to have learnt from their mistakes. Be it their strikers or the defence, the errors were elementary and they did themselves no favour by picking up two yellow cards and an equal number of green cards.
Up against a formidable team, India came up short in spirit, aggression and pace. They were caught napping very early in the contest and were duly punished. Shona McCallin sent in a ball from the top of the circle and Hannah Martin deflected it from a close range even as the Indian defence fumbled. India’s defence, in particular, looked in disarray, leaving the British strikers unchecked inside the circle.
The forwardline, on the other hand, created opportunities but lost possession in quick time. Hannah doubled the lead, capitalising on a goalmouth melee in the 19th minute off a penalty corner.
The Indian defenders looked clueless as goalkeeper Savita cleared the first shot but the rebound went through her legs. India offered a glimmer of hope when Gurjit Kaur’s dragflick was deflected by Sharmila Devi but the fightback ended there. Britain slotted home two more goals with Lily Owsley (41) and Grace Balsdon (57) adding their names to the result sheet.