Indian hockey women’s team begin 2020 with a win
Indian hockey women’s team scored a 4-0 win over the New Zealand Development squad to kick-start their Olympic year with a resounding victory in Auckland on Saturday.
Captain Rani Rampal was the star of the match, scoring twice, while Sharmila Devi and Namita Toppo found the back of the net once each while the hosts found it difficult to get past the Indian backline throughout the tie.
The Indian hockey women’s team is in New Zealand for an exposure tour that will see them play the Kiwi national side twice and the reigning Olympic champions, Great Britain, once in the coming days.
Rani Rampal leads from the front
The Indian hockey women’s team were slow to get off the blocks as they took the entirety of the opening half to settle into their rhythm before they could sound the board on Saturday.
While Rani Rampal scored in the third quarter, the Indians could have gone on to extend their lead right after as they earned consecutive penalty corners for their smartness in the opposition’s striking circle. But the Indian eves could barely make anything of the opportunities as the chances went begging with just a goal separating the two sides.
The Indian hockey women’s team, however, extended the lead before the hooter could sound with the 18-year-old Sharmila Devi scoring her first goal of the season after some sleek stick work.
Captain Rani Rampal made it 3-0 once the match resumed while Namita Toppo wrapped up the Indian show with a goal just ahead of the full-time hooter.
Coach Sjoerd Marijne’s take
Speaking to Hockey India after the match, chief coach Sjoerd Marijne sounded happy with his side’s performance. “In the beginning, we struggled a bit with the jet lag but after that, we played a very controlled game and created a lot of opportunities," said Marijne.
“The last two quarters, New Zealand created a lot of pressure and they pressed hard but we continued to remain positive with our attack.”
Later, the Dutchman also stated that the tour was a platform for him to test the squad as he builds towards Tokyo 2020.
“Today we played with 16 players, just like the Olympic Games, and every match we will change the players. Whether they make the squad depends on these matches and how they cope under pressure,” he said.
“We tried a few new things in the match today but we still need improvement and that's why we are here, to improve our game in every match.”
What’s next for the Indian hockey women’s team?
The Indian hockey women’s team will take on the New Zealand national team on Monday, January 27.