The Indian hockey women’s team drew 2-2 with the Argentina junior women’s team in Buenos Aires on Sunday.
Young striker Sharmila Devi and experienced defender Deep Grace Ekka were the goalscorers for India. Paula Santamarina and Briga Bruggesser scored for the hosts.
In its first competitive match in almost a year, the rusty Indian hockey team attacked from the get-go, earning two penalty corners in the eighth and ninth minutes but were unable to convert. At the other end, veteran Indian goalkeeper and vice-captain Savita Punia saved one from the Argentine juniors.
However, 18-year-old Sharmila Devi ensured that India did not have to wait too long to take the lead, scoring in the 22nd minute. The resolute Argentina juniors though hit back through Santamarina just six minutes later.
Deep Grace Ekka then got India 2-1 up early in the third quarter, putting away a penalty corner in the 31st minute, and then defended well to maintain the lead heading into the final quarter.
However, the Argentina junior women’s team – twice Junior World Cup champions – showed why it is considered one of the best young sides in the world as they equalised for the second time through Bruggesser.
The Indian hockey women’s team did create one last opening, through a penalty corner in the 52nd minute, but it was saved well and the match ended 2-2.
“It was a typical first match after a long gap. Playing a competitive side after a year takes time to get into the rhythm and we played 23 athletes to give them all a feeling of playing in a match after a long gap,” Sjoerd Marijne, the team’s chief coach, said after the match.
“We will need to build on our rhythm match-by-match. We will be thoroughly analysing this match and the key will be to learn from the mistakes we made here and be ready for the next game.”
The women’s Indian hockey team will play its second match of the tour – against the Argentina junior women’s team – in the small hours of Wednesday.