CWG women’s hockey: India salvage a 1-1 draw against Scotland

By Anand Philar, IANS,

New Delhi: India came within a whisker of losing, but pulled up their socks in the nick of time to force a 1-1 draw with Scotland in a pool A game of the women’s hockey competition in the 19th Commonwealth Games here today.

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The hard-fought draw was in contrast to the other pool A match that saw South Africa, thanks to four goals by comeback queen Pietie Coetzee, swamp lowly Trinidad and Tobago 12-0.

Earlier, in two pool B matches, Malaysia scored their first win in three meetings against Canada with a 3-2 verdict while New Zealand eased to a 5-1 win over Wales to open the hockey competition in the morning.

India, silver medalists at the 2006 Games, appeared rather too anxious to get cracking against Scotland whom they had never played before and were shocked by a third minute goal by Holly Cram who was left free inside the circle to receive and score off Vikki Bunce.

It took a long time for the Indians to get their act together and it was only in the 45th minute that their concerted efforts bore fruit when Jasjeet Kaur found the board with a reverse hit for the equaliser.

“We had never before played Scotland nor did we have any of their recordings to study. We were keen to score first and thus put ourselves under pressure,” said skipper Surinder Kaur. “We need to win all our matches from here on.”

It was a game that India should have won comfortably for they looked the better team for much of the game, but a weak finish undid all their solid approach work.

The Scots reveled in unexpected freedom in the midfield, but at best, were only persistent and the early goal put them in an advantageous position until the Indians caught up in the second-half.

The Indians need to credit their deep defence where Binita Toppo was outstanding with her covering and interceptions while in the midfield Ritu Rani was eye-catching with her distribution and organization that helped Surinder Kaur to make some searing runs.

Earlier, the 32-year-old Coetzee came out of a self-imposed five-year hiatus from competitive hockey and showed she was none the worse for it.

The other goal-scorers for South Africa, who led 3-0 at the break, were: Dirkie Chamberlain (3), Jennifer Wilson (2), Kathleen Taylor, Lesle Anne George and Farah Fredericks.

In another match, New Zealand took a while to settle down before getting past a fast fading Wales.

New Zealand’s victory was built around goals by Katie Glynn (18th), Gemma Flynn (37th), Anna Thorpe (51st, 59th) and Claissa Eshuis (68th) while Wales, who initially kept pace with their opponents, scored through Abigail Welsford (33rd).

Meanwhile, Canada woke up rather too late and crashed to a 2-3 defeat against Malaysia. Playing attacking hockey from the start, the Malaysians overran the Canadian defence and took a 3-0 lead on goals by Norbaini Hashim (18th, 56th) and Norfana Hashim (49th).

However, Canada came back strongly as Diana Roemer (56th) and Anna Koznuik (59th) scored only to run out of time while missing a few sitters that eventually cost them dear.