Indian women’s hockey team began their New Zealand tour with a big 4-0 win over their development squad in Auckland on Saturday.
Having arrived in the country on Thursday, it took India the first half to shake off the starting blues with it ending 0-0. However, captain and striker Rani broke the shackles in the third quarter with the first goal of the match.
Having found an opening, soon India won consecutive penalty corners but failed to convert them. The second goal came from the stick of youngster Sharmila in the third quarter while Rani tripled the lead when she scored her second goal of the match in the fourth quarter.
Namita Toppo rounded off the victory hitting her sole and India’s fourth goal.
Explaining the rustiness in the first two quarters, India women hockey coach Sjoerd Marijne said the team was struggling with the jet lag. “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,” 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 added. “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.”
Marijne feels the team has to keep improving as the tour progresses. 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,” he said.
During the tour, India will play the New Zealand in four matches and Great Britain in one match.