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Olympics hockey: Indian women lose steam after bright start in opener

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Tokyo, July 24, 2021- India, ranked 9th in the world, matched world No 1 Netherlands in the first half but their challenge fizzled out as the Dutch cantered to a 5-1 win in a Group A match in the women’s hockey competition at the Tokyo Olympics on Saturday.

The Dutch took lead through Maria Verschoor in the sixth minute but were stunned when India scored the equaliser four minutes later through skipper Rani Rampal. The Indians then kept the Netherlands at bay in the remaining part of the first quarter and the entire second quarter to go to half-time 1-1.

But the Netherlands, the reigning world champions and 2016 Olympics runners-up got control of the match and went on a goal-scoring spree in the second session, scoring four goals to hand India a big defeat.

Margot van Greffen (pc) 33rd minute, Felice Albers in the 44th minute, Frédérique Matla in 45th minute and Calavan Maasakker in the 52nd minute scored for the Netherlands as India got totally outplayed.

The Dutch are three-time Olympic champions and a dominant force in women’s hockey while India have qualified for the Olympics for only the third time. The Dutch won silver in Rio de Janeiro while India had finished 12th among 12 teams. The gap was evident on Saturday, though the Indians did well in patches.

They denied the Dutch for a large part of the first half. The Dutch made 12 circle entries but could score only three field goals, they earned six penalty corners but could convert only two of them. They made 23 attacking circle penetrations while the Indians could manage only nine.

For India, goalkeeper Savita made some good saves in the first half before she was overwhelmed by the Dutch onslaught.  (Agency)

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