BIRMINGHAM: A horrendous error by the officials robbed Indian women’s hockey team of a huge opportunity.
It was an opportunity to put the mighty Australians under the pump and enter the CWG final but the callousness of the officials denied the gritty Indian team, which gave its all in pushing the most fearsome side in world hockey.
Australians were feeling the heat for the first time in the tournament. It could not have been a better start for India with Rosie Malone fluffing the first attempt. India skipper Savita Punia was excellent in blocking the scoring move.
But, wait. The Australians got back the missed chance because the officials did not start the clock. They take the shot again and this time a flustered Savita could not save it. The momentum changes.
Lalremsiami, Neha Goyal and Navneet Kaur all fail to score while Kaitlin Nobbs and Amy Lawton found the net. Australia walk away with the win and a place in the final.
“It does not matter, but of course it does matter.”
These words from India’s chief coach Janneke Schopmann summed up the frustration, helplessness and the anger.
The Indian women’s hockey team put up its best performance on the turf since finishing a historic fourth in last year’s Tokyo Olympics, giving Australia a run for its money.
Even though it conceded a goal in the 10th minute, India equalised in the 49th minute through a brilliant field goal by Vandana Katariya.
Vandana’s goal was also the first time Australia conceded in the tournament so far, having kept a clean slate in the pool stages.
But in the end, the players were reduced to frustrated lot.
“After that (clock howler), we lost a little bit of our momentum. Then it did go in, and everyone is deflated,” Schopman, a double Olympic medallist, said.
“I’m not using it as an excuse, but when you make the save, that’s an enormous boost for the team and you turn the decision around and the girls are really upset about it.
“The official’s hand was up, but I didn’t really know and the umpires -- A Church and H Harrison of England -- also did not. So, that’s why I’m frustrated because the umpires said we have to retake it.”
Schopman said humans are prone to errors but the officials need to take into account the emotional toll, which is attached to such a high-profile game. A hurt India will now be gunning for at least a bronze when it takes on New Zealand on Sunday.