Brilliant goalkeeping by Savita saw India hold hosts South Africa 0-0 in their first match at the Women’s Hockey World League Semi Final here on Saturday.
India made a strong start with a structured game, a better ball possession in the first 15 minutes. There were also some crucial circle penetrations made in the first quarter that fetched them a PC in the 12th minute of the match. However, a fiercely struck flick by India’s dragflicker Gurjit Kaur was well-defended by South Africa’s first runner to deny India an early lead.
With the second quarter starting with the score reading 0-0, South Africa bounced back into the game with an improvised attack. They made two brilliant attempts on goal. First it was Tarryn Glasby who beat Indian defenders in the circle to take a shot on goal, but an alert Savita was brilliant in her efforts to keep South Africa from scoring. Sulette Damons’ shot on goal was perhaps the best chance South Africa had to score but her powerfully struck shot was slightly off the mark even as Savita made a diving effort to defend. Both teams went into halftime in a stalemate.
There was plenty of action in the third quarter with hosts South Africa, backed by a roaring home crowd, and the support paid off when the home team scored through a field goal by Stephanie Baxter. However, a clever call for video referral by India denied South Africa the goal as it came off the back of the stick. India continued to keep the pressure on the hosts with a strong defence to keep them from making successful forays into the striking circle.
The final quarter witnessed both teams build up frantic pace, as both India and South Africa pushed for a goal. India won their second PC in the 47th minute but striker Rani’s attempt at scoring a PC was denied by South Africa’s first runner who deflected the ball rather perfectly. The following minutes saw South African forwards keep India’s Savita busy at the post as they made tactical variations to take shot on goal. But Savita was exceptional to deny them a goal. South Africa made eight unsuccessful attempts on goal with 34 circle penetrations while India had 15 circle penetrations and three shots on goal. Though South Africa won their only PC of the game in the dying minutes, Tarryn Glasby was kept from converting the goal. India did well to hold hosts to a 0-0 draw and share the points.
India will take on USA on July 10 at 21.30 hours IST. Matches will be shown live on Star Sports 1, HD1 as well as live streamed on Hotstar.com