Indian women’s hockey team begins NZ tour with 4-0 win

Indian women's hockey team Rani Rampal scored a brace while Sharmila and Namita Toppo scored in a 4-0 victory over New Zealand Developmental squad.

File Photo: Rani Rampal (centre) scored the second and third goals in the opening match of the New Zealand tour on Saturday.   -  special arrangement

Skipper Rani Rampal struck twice as the Indian women’s hockey team started its first tour of the Olympic year with a confident 4-0 victory over New Zealand Development squad here on Saturday.

Besides Rani’s double, Sharmila and Namita Toppo also sounded the board in a dominant victory. India played with an intent to win after arriving here on Thursday for the tour where it will play the host in four matches and Great Britain in one match.

The visitor 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 its 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.

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“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 Chief coach Sjoerd Marijne after the match.

“The last two quarters New Zealand created a lot of pressure and they pressed hard but we continued to remain positive with our attack.”

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,” said the Dutchman.

“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.”

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