The Indian Women’s Hockey Team registered their fourth consecutive victory in Pool B here today at the Gelora Bung Karno Hockey Field as they defeated Thailand 5-0 to maintain their 100% record in the 18th Asian Games Jakarta-Palembang 2018. It was Captain Rani who inspired her team to a convincing victory as she scored a hat-trick of goals in the 37th, 46th and 56th minutes while midfielder Monika (52’) and striker Navjot Kaur (55’) also registered their names on the score-sheet.
The first few minutes of the opening quarter saw Thailand maintain most of the possession but it was India who had an opening in the 5th minute as Skipper Rani’s reverse shot from the right flank went just wide of the goalpost. India won themselves their first PC in the same minute, but the resulting shot from Deep Grace Ekka was saved by a Thai defender. The remaining minutes of the quarter saw both the teams battle for possession in midfield, with India creating a few opportunities, however the World No. 9 team lacked the intensity and precision in their play. Thailand seemed content on defending as a unit and not allow the Indians any room as the scores remained 0-0 at the end of the first quarter.
India had a couple of chances in the opening minutes of the second quarter as Rani took another shot which went wide, while fellow striker Vandana Katariya was denied a shooting chance by the Thai Goalkeeper Alisa Narueangram as she cleared the ball away as the Indian was about to take a shot. Rani was involved again in the 23rd minute as she made her way into the striking circle, wriggling past four Thai defenders and fired a ball across goal, but young striker Lalremsiami could not get her stick at the end of the pass as the scores remained 0-0. In the 25th minute, India won themselves their second PC of the match, and it was Rani who took the shot but was denied by the Thai Goalkeeper. The Indian team struggled to create openings in the second quarter also as the World No. 28 Thailand team seemed content with the 0-0 score-line which saw the teams going into the half-time break without a goal to their credit.
India started the third quarter by going on the attack and winning themselves their third PC in the 32nd minute but Gurjit Kaur’s shot was saved by Thai Goalkeeper Alisa Narueangram on her right side. India kept the pressure on the Thai defence in the following minutes, and Udita’s darting run on the left flank saw her win a fourth PC for her team. But it was a replay of the earlier drag-flick as Narueangram denied Gurjit Kaur again. However, Captain Rani stepped up for her country in the 37th minute as she entered the striking circle from the left flank, giving the ball to Udita who in-turn played her in and the Indian skipper put the ball past the Thai Goalkeeper to give India the lead. The World No. 9 team put constant pressure on their opponents in the following minutes, which included Navneet Kaur and Lilima Minz take shots on the Thai goal, but were denied by their Goalkeeper.
The Indian team started the fourth quarter with an attacking intent as Lalremsiami’s shot from the left side of the Thai goal was palmed away by the Goalkeeper, and it was Rani who found herself in possession on the right, and stroked the ball into the back of the net to score India’s second goal in the 46th minute. India maintained their authority in the match as they looked for a third goal to secure the three points. The 52nd minute saw India win another PC which was taken by Deep Grace Ekka, but she was denied by Thai Goalkeeper Siraya Yimkrajang. However, the rebound fell to Indian midfielder Monika, who struck a fierce low shot to give India its third goal. In the 55th minute, Neha Goyal’s attacking run on the left flank produced a fourth goal for the Indian team as her minus pass to Navjot Kaur was struck into the goal to make it 4-0 in India’s favour. The following minute saw Captain Rani complete her hat-trick as she beat a couple of Thai defenders and struck with a beautiful finish from the centre of the striking circle to secure a 5-0 victory for her team.
The result secured Indian Women’s Hockey Team’s berth in the Semi-Final match of the 18th Asian Games Jakarta-Palembang 2018 and will be in action on Wednesday, 29th August 2018 at 18.30hrs IST.