Women's Hockey World Cup: India searches for first win

The Indian women’s hockey team would be aiming to make amends when it takes on a lower-ranked Ireland in its second game of the World Cup on Thursday.

India lost 1-2 to Ireland in the HWL Semifinals in Johannesburg last year and revenge would be high on the Rani Rampal-led side’s agenda when it takes the turf.   -  AP

The Indian women’s hockey team would be aiming to make amends when it takes on a lower-ranked Ireland in its second game of the World Cup, here on Thursday.

India fell short of scoring an upset win over World No.2 England in its Pool B opener after conceding a late goal which saw the visitor play out a 1-1 draw.

Neha Goyal gave India the lead in the 25th minute before Lily Owsley equalised from a penalty corner in the 54th minute as the host grabbed a share of the spoils.

However, World No. 10 India will fancy its chances against World No. 16 Ireland. By virtue of its stunning 3-1 over World No. 7 USA, the lowest ranked side in the group, Ireland is currently leading Pool B just ahead of England and India. And a win against India would secure Ireland’s place in the knockout stage.

The Sjoerd Marijne-coached side, on the other hand, would be desperate to score its first win in the tournament. India lost 1-2 to Ireland in the HWL Semifinals in Johannesburg last year and revenge would be high on the Rani Rampal-led side’s agenda when it takes the turf.

The Indian goalkeeper Savita is confident that India has the firepower to beat Ireland. “We have done well against Ireland in practice matches in the past,” Savita said before adding,“In the match last year, we were leading and should have won for sure but conceding two penalty corners one after another proved costly. We have a strong defence and play an attacking brand of hockey - this is a potent combination and makes us strong as a side."

But the Indians will have to lift their game by few notches for that to happen. Against England, they failed to earn a single penalty corner, leaving drag-flicker Gurjit Kaur frustrated. However,  Savita was brilliant under the bar to deny England on numerous occasions.

India did create more chances from open play against England and that's something the team will be looking to replicate against Ireland as it sets sight on topping the group ahead of its last fixture against USA on July 29.

In the other match of the day, Spain will take on South Africa in Pool C.

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