Buenos Aires, Jan 18 (IANS) The Indian women’s hockey team returned to international competition after a year with a 2-2 draw against Argentina’s junior women’s national team, with goals from young striker Sharmila Devi (22nd minute) and the experienced Deep Grace Ekka (31st minute).
India got off the blocks with the intent to attack in the first quarter. The team won two back-to-back penalty corners in the eighth and ninth minutes of play, but they were well defended by a strong Argentine defence line. Though Argentina too was awarded a penalty corner, in the 11th minute, an alert Indian team custodian Savita thwarted the attempt.
The second quarter saw India set-up a fine goal via Sharmila in the 22nd minute to provide the team a 1-0 lead. However, Paula Santamarina of Argentina scored in the 28th minute to draw level. India reposed the lead soon after the second quarter when Deep Grace Ekka converted a penalty corner in the 31st minute. The visitors defended well to keep up the 2-1 lead all through the third quarter and carried a good rhythm into the final quarter.
The home team bounced back in the final quarter to equalise with a fine goal by Brisa Bruggesser in the 48th minute. Though India tried to create one last opportunity before the final hooter, the home team’s defence stood strong.
A penalty corner awarded to India in the 53rd minute was saved, eventually ending the match with a 2-2 scoreline.
“It was a typical first match after a long gap. Playing a competitive side after a year takes time to get into the rhythm and we played 23 athletes to give them all a feeling of playing in a match after a long gap,” said chief coach Sjoerd Marijne.
“We will need to build on our rhythm match-by-match. We will be thoroughly analyzing this match and the key will be to learn from the mistakes we made here and be ready for the next game,” he said.
India will take on Argentina junior women’s team on Wednesday.