Olympics hockey: India women's team loses 1-5 to Netherlands

Netherlands defeated India 5-1 in a Pool A match of the women's hockey event at the Tokyo Olympics on Saturday. Felice Albers scored two goals for the Dutch.

Indians got a taste of what they can expect in Pool A, where they have been grouped with all three medals winners from the 2016 Rio Games – Great Britain, the Netherlands and Germany.   -  Getty Images

The Netherlands women's team lived up to its billing as one of the favourites for the women’s hockey title at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics as it handed India a 5-1 drubbing in their Pool A game at the Oi Hockey Stadium in Tokyo on Saturday.

The Indians got a taste of what they can expect in Pool A, where they have been grouped with all three medals winners from the 2016 Rio Games – Great Britain, the Netherlands and Germany. India’s other two opponents are 2018 World Cup runner-up Ireland, which beat India twice in that tournament, and South Africa.

The Dutchwomen got off to a flyer as Felice Albers broke the deadlock in the sixth minute. The Indian side, led by Rani Rampal, was always going to need to churn out its very best to stand a chance against the 2021 European champion. And it was skipper Rampal who brought India back into the game as she scored against the run of play four minutes after the opener.

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The Indians creditably held fort at the back to neutralise the potent attacking threat posed by the Dutch forwards, while goalkeeper Savita Punia made a string of sharp saves in the second quarter to ensure the scoreline remained 1-1 at the interval.

However, India’s hopes of upsetting the Dutch faded away when the latter scored within three minutes of the restart. Caia Jacqueline van Maasakker collected the penalty corner and struck towards goal as Margot van Geffen stuck her stick out to direct it past the ’keeper.

Albers scored her second goal of the evening after finishing off a stunning move orchestrated by defender Pien Sanders, who made a surging run down the right and played a delightful inch-perfect pass for Albers to convert.

If the third goal deflated the Indians, the fourth, which arrived just two minutes later, left them gasping for air. Frederique Matla ran a good 30 yards before selling the defender a dummy and slamming home a ferocious reverse hit. Dutch defender van Maasakkaer capped off a commanding win with a thumping strike off a penalty corner, past a hapless Savita.

The Indians will face another stiff challenge when they take on Germany in their next Pool A match on Monday.

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