Indian women’s hockey team started its first tour of the Olympic year with a confident 4-0 victory over the New Zealand Development squad in Auckland on Saturday (January 25).
Skipper Rani Rampal struck twice alongside Sharmila and Namita Toppo’s sounded goals on the board, while the hosts drew a blank.
India played with an intent to win after arriving at the venue on Thursday (January 23) for the tour where they will play the hosts in four matches and Great Britain in one match.
The visitors took the first half to shake off the starting blues with Rani fetching the opening goal in the third quarter.
India continued to build on their 1-0 lead by creating back-to-back PCs in the following minutes but could not convert.
Youngster Sharmila then doubled the lead in the third quarter and Rani stretched it to 3-0 when she scored her second goal of the match in the fourth quarter. Namita Toppo then earned India’s fourth goal.
“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. The last two quarters New Zealand created a lot of pressure and they pressed hard but we continued to remain positive with our attack,” said Chief Coach Sjoerd Marijne after the match.
Marijne said he will try out a few things during the tour, including changing the players in the squad.
“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. 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,” said the Dutchman.
(With inputs from agencies)