By B Shrikant
Birmingham, Aug 7 (Ajit Weekly News) Even though India lost to Australia in a shoot-out in the semifinals, India women’s hockey team captain Savita was confident of their chances of winning against New Zealand in the tie-breaker and said the team showed great courage in coming back to win the bronze medal.
The Indian team had fought back from a goal down to take Australia into the shoot-out and Savita had even saved their first shot before the umpires intervened and got the shoot-out taken again because the timer was not started.
The Indian team could not recover from that unexpected turn of events and failed to convert their first three shoot-out efforts and lost 3-0. Also, virtually the same Indian team had lost to New Zealand in the World Cup in Netherlands and Spain and failed to clinch a direct berth to the quarterfinals. That result too must have been playing on their mind.
On Sunday, it looked like a rerun of the semifinal for India as New Zealand came from behind to score in the final minute via a penalty stroke and took the match to the shoot-out. But this time the Indians were at their best, especially Savita, as she pulled off three good saves to help India win the match and the bronze medal.
Playing back-to-back shoot-outs is huge pressure but skipper Savita said she was ready for that.
“After they earned the penalty stroke it was clear that the match will go into a shoot-out, so I was ready. I had also talked to Janneke about this possibility and therefore was confident of doing my best. The pressure is always there in the shoot-out but I always back my abilities to do well in such situations,” said skipper and goalkeeper Savita, who pulled off some good saves to seal victory for India.
Savita said she was proud of her team for coming back so strongly after the disappointing result against Australia.
“I feel great. This match was very tough for us and both teams made a good effort. We knew it wouldn’t be easy, so before we came, we worked every minute and every second. We were not expecting a medal of this colour, if things had gone our way, it would have been a gold medal.
“But I am so proud of my team. We fought as a team to come back and win after the way things happened in the shoot-out against Australia is great,” she said.
India should have won the match in regulation time but New Zealand scored in the last few seconds when they launched a desperate attack and earned a penalty stroke when Navneet Kaur committed a mistake.
The midfielder however said the Black Sticks capitalised on their numerical advantage.
“They took out their goalkeeper and we got a (yellow) card, so it’s very difficult to defend. They are also a very good team. We believed in our shootouts and we did it,” said Navneet, who redeemed herself by converting the second penalty shootout for India.
She said the Indian players were better prepared for the shoot-out after the disappointment against Australia.
“In the semis (shoot-out), we were in too much of a hurry. Today we thought that we had to just do our own thing, and not care what the (NZL) goalie was doing. That calmness helped us,” she said.
–Ajit Weekly News
News Credits – I A N S