India beat New Zealand in thrilling shootout to win CWG 2022 bronze medal, end 16-year-long wait in women's hockey
The India women's hockey team ended their 16-year-long wait for a CWG medal when they defeated New Zealand 2-1 in a dramatic shootout to win bronze at the Commonwealth Games 2022 on Sunday.
The India women's hockey team ended their 16-year-long wait for a CWG medal when they defeated New Zealand to win bronze at the Commonwealth Games 2022 in a thrilling finish. After the regulation time ended in 1-1, with New Zealand scoring an equaliser in the final 30 seconds, the match headed into shootouts, and two days after enduring a heart-break against Australia, India emerged victorious 2-1 with Savita Punia pulling off three successful saves. Led gallantly by their captain, India women, who came up agonisingly short of a medal finish last year at the Tokyo Olympics, and whose last CWG medal came way back in 2006, finally had their moment under the sun.
India scored the only goal of the match in the second quarter through Salima Tete after which they survived a goal from New Zealand that was eventually cancelled out. Drama unfolded in the final five minutes of the match though, as New Zealand substituted their goalkeeper with an additional player on the field, and began mounting a few attacks. India received a jolt when Lalremsiami was shown a yellow card with 120 seconds to go, bringing the team down to 10. Being one player short impacted India as NZ earned a penalty corner, and even though Savita did well to save it, New Zealand were awarded a penalty stroke, which they converted with 30 seconds left on the clock pushing the game into a shootout.
Roberts scored from her first attempt, but in India's first, Sangeeta was unable to get the ball past the keeper. On the second go, Savita saved an effort from Hope Ralph, twice since it had to be restarted. In India's second chance, Sonika's initial shot was saved but she was able to convert from the rebound putting in the dive. Savita then performed out of her skin to save the next two hits, which meant that India were now one conversion away from bronze.
However, more drama was to follow and Neha missed the scoop. With India in need to save the last attempt, fittingly, it was their captain Savita who blocked the shot and triggered emotional celebrations in the Indian dugout. India women's hockey team now has all three medals at CWG - gold in Manchester 2002, silver in Australia and now a bronze in Birmingham.
After a shaky couple of first minutes, India settled into a lot fluid pattern finding their passes well. India's first sign of attack came in the sixth minute when Sushila Chanu attempted a goal but the ball was way off target. India survived a scare when Savita had come up trying to clear; thankfully for her, a late minute deflection from Nisha came to the rescue. New Zealand kept mounting pressure and it resulted into a penalty corner. They played the deflection in the PC but to no avail.
With four moments to go in the first quarter, Sangeeta took a shot, a reverse hit, but the ball took a deflection and went wide. New Zealand came back strong in the third quarter and after coming close on a couple of occasions, scored the equaliser. Or so it seemed. India immediately took the review hoping for a foot inside the circle and whether the free hit is was taken correctly from the 5m line. The TV umpire said it wasn't from the 5m line and the goal was cancelled.
India managed plenty of circle penetrations but it didn't result into the outcome they were looking for. New Zealand, coming into the game had conceded only two goals in the group stage and India got some first-hand experience of how solid their defence was. But they were soon able to find a way to crack it. With 3 minutes to the second quarter, Sharmila couldn't collect the ball clearly during a series of attack, but Salima was at the right place at the right time and sliced the ball into the net to break the deadlock, New Zealand's referral notwithstanding. Salima's third goal of the tournament is what separated the two teams at half-time, which they were able to retain until the final 30 seconds of regulation time.
The medal finish comes as a much-needed boost for the Indian eves, who entered CWG 2022 hoping to put behind the disappointment of finishing 9th at the Hockey World Cup last month. Placed in the same group as England, Canada, Wales and Ghana, India finished second in Pool A qualifying for the semifinal, where they were up against Australia, but a controversial finish to the match robbed India women of a shot at gold. They could have easily let it distract them ahead of a big medal contest, but the girls decided not to let it act as a deterrent, and put on a show for the ages, one that fetched them a medal that was long pending.
India began their campaign in the CWG 2022 with a big win over Ghana. In a display of absolute domination, midfielders Tete and Neha scored a goal each to help India to a 5-0 win. Forward Sangita Kumari chipped in with one goal too, while defender Gurjit Kaur was the star performer by scoring two goals.
Against Wales, India were leading 2-0 by the end of quarter two, before conceding one in the third quarter. Then, forward Vandana Katariya's goal through penalty corner in the 48th minute was the final nail in the coffin. The Indian women faced their biggest challenge when they faced off against home side England. Ranked fourth in the world, England dominated the field right from the start and led India by 2-0 by the end of third quarter. Hannah Martin's goal through penalty corner in the 53rd minute gave England a lead of a goal more. Vandana scored a consolation goal in the dying seconds to save India's face as they lost 1-3.
The loss against England meant that India desperately needed a win over Canada in their fourth pool A match, to make it to the semi-finals. In a virtual quarterfinal, the Indian women pulled up their socks and prevailed over Canada in a hard-fought match, securing a 3-2 win. The scorecard read 2-2 till the 51st minute, but then India's Lalremsiami scored via penalty corner to give India a 3-2 lead. Canada women fought hard for an equaliser but it was not going to be enough.
In a thrilling semi-final against Australia, India women fought neck to neck and had ensured a 1-1 draw when all the fourth quarter ended. Trailing 0-1 till the fourth quarter, Vandana again came to India's rescue as she equalised for India. The match then went to a shootout where India's goalkeeper Savita pulled off a great save but controversy ensued, denying India a place in the final.