London, July 21 (IANS) India started off their campaign in the hockey women’s World Cup with a 1-1 draw against World No.2 England in a Pool B match at the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre here on Saturday.
The match saw the Indian team take the lead in the 25th minute through Neha Goyal, but England’s constant pressure towards the end of the match saw them earn an equaliser in the 54th minute through Lily Owsley.
It was a difficult start to the match for the Indians as the hosts looked to attack them in front of a packed stadium, winning a Penalty Corner in the opening minute.
However, the resulting drag-flick was brilliantly saved by the India goalkeeper Savita, and cleared away by the defenders.
The next few minutes saw India dominate possession and create a couple of circle entries, but could not take a shot at goal.
In the 8th minute, Hannah Martin won England’s second PC off the foot of an Indian defender, but the resulting drag-flick was scuffed.
World No.10 India also tried to create pressure in the next couple of minutes with the English defenders misplacing their passes and losing possession, but neither team could take the lead in the opening quarter.
The second quarter saw a similar story for both the teams as England dominated the first few minutes, winning themselves three PC’s in the first 10 minutes.
But Savita made brilliant reflex saves on all three occasions to deny the hosts any chance of taking the lead. India looked content on absorbing the pressure, and were looking to attack the English on the counter.
The strategy worked in the 25th minute when India’s pressing in the attacking half helped them regain possession and convert it into a goal as Nikki Pradhan’s ball into the striking circle was deflected off an English foot, and onto Navjot Kaur, whose injection towards the goal was deflected into the back of the net by Neha Goyal to give India an important lead.
Hosts England tried to create chances towards the end of the second quarter, but India’s defence made sure that they took their one-goal lead into the half-time break.
The third quarter was dominated by the hosts as they looked for an equaliser. The World No.2 side made 11 circle entries in the third period, but could only take three shots, which were well kept out by a resolute Indian defence.
It was the last quarter where England dominated possession and tested India’s nerves through some strong forward play.
The 48th minute saw India’s Sunita Lakra deny England again from their sixth PC as she made a save on the line.
However, the hosts were awarded another PC but India’s defence managed to win a free-hit after Savita had made another save off Grace Balsdon’s shot.
In the 52nd minute, India had a chance to extend their lead as their forward Lalremsiami was found inside the striking circle by Neha’s pass but the young striker failed to deflect the ball onto the target as England continued to attack.
In the 54th minute, England won back-to-back PCs and the second one was put into the back of the net by Lily Owsley to bring the scores level at 1-1.
The final few moments of the match saw both the teams look for a winner, but defenders from either side denied any inroads to the opponents as both the sides settled for a draw.