The India women junior hockey team began their campaign at the 3-Nations Tournament in Australia with an impressive 2-0 win against New Zealand in their opening encounter on Wednesday.
Forward Lalrindiki (15’) and midfielder Prabhleen Kaur (60’) were on the mark for India.
India started the match on an aggressive against a New Zealand side that earlier defeated hosts Australia 3-1 in their first match on Tuesday. India’s dominance in the opening quarter saw them win an early Penalty Corner in the 3rd minute, but the resulting attempt was whiskers wide of the post. Constant pressure on the New Zealand defence in the opening quarter resulted in another opening and the 18-year-old Lalrindiki found herself with enough space in front of goal to get her shot away.
However, New Zealand had a chance to level things up early in the second quarter with their first Penalty Corner. But Indian goalie Bichu Devi Kharibam positioned herself perfectly to deny them. An absorbing period of play followed as the two teams battled for possession but neither created any strong chance, meaning India retained their one-goal advantage at the half-time break.
The third quarter brought with itself plenty of chances for both the teams. First, it was the Indian team who were awarded two Penalty Corners at the start of the period. However, a shot off target and a brilliant save by New Zealand’s Goalkeeper Kelly Carline kept India away from doubling their lead. Having defended patiently, New Zealand also won themselves a Penalty Corner as end of the third quarter approached, but India retained their slim one-goal advantage.
The fourth quarter saw a similar story as New Zealand upped their hunt for the equaliser. Few close moments in the last 15 minutes saw India staving off another Penalty Corner in the 48th minute, and then win one of their one.
It was only in the last minute of the match, with 30 seconds remaining on the clock, that India were awarded yet another Penalty Corner. This time it was India’s Prabhleen Kaur who stepped up to take the drag-flick, and scored an exquisite goal to seal a 2-0 win.
The 3 Nations Tournament started on Tuesday with New Zealand defeating hosts Australia 3-1 as Olivia Shannon (3’) and Hope Ralph (47’, 52’) scored for the tourists, with Australia’s Aisling Utri (50’) scoring her team’s only goal.
The Indian Junior Women’s Hockey team will be in action yet again on Thursday as they face hosts Australia in their second match of the 3-Nations Tournament.