Women’s WC: India hopes to begin on a high

India would be eager to settle scores against a team which shattered its bronze medal hopes in last year’s Tokyo Olympics. The India women’s side came tantalisingly close to clinching its maiden Olympic medal in Tokyo, only to lose 3-4 against Great Britain, which is now turning out as England in the showpiece.
Goalkeeper Savita Punia
Goalkeeper Savita Punia

AMSTELVEEN: No more a pushover, a rejuvenated India would seek revenge against England when the two teams open their Pool B campaign in the Women’s Hockey World Cup here on Sunday.

India would be eager to settle scores against a team which shattered its bronze medal hopes in last year’s Tokyo Olympics. The India women’s side came tantalisingly close to clinching its maiden Olympic medal in Tokyo, only to lose 3-4 against Great Britain, which is now turning out as England in the showpiece.

But heading into the World Cup, the Indians will be high on confidence, especially after finishing a creditable third in their maiden outing in the FIH Pro League. Experienced goalkeeper Savita Punia has handled captaincy responsibilities brilliantly since taking over from Rani Rampal, who has been sidelined since the Tokyo Games due to a hamstring injury.

Savita has been in stellar form, while she will have a young back-up in Bichu Devi Kharibam. The backline consists of vice-captain Deep Grace Ekka, Gurjit Kaur, Udita and Nikki Pradhan, while the responsibility of building attacks will be on the shoulders of Sushila Chanu, Neha Goyal, Navjot Kaur, Sonika, Jyoti, Nisha and Monika.

Salima Tete, who has been in terrific form and is known for her electrifying runs down the flanks, will need to play the linking role. The onus of scoring goals will be on the experienced Vandana Katariya, Lalremsiami, Navneet Kaur and Sharmila Devi. Even though it has a welloiled squad, India will miss the experience and services of Rani.

“If we truly play to our potential, if we play the way we know we can consistently, anything is possible. Women’s hockey at this moment is very tight, anyone can beat anyone,” India chief coach Janekke Schopman had said.

“If we can play well consistently, who knows, a podium in the World Cup is a possibility,” he had added. There is hardly anything to differentiate between India and England. England is placed fourth in the world rankings while India is at sixth. After England, India will face China on July 5, followed by its last pool match against New Zealand on July 7.

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