Favourites India endured a forgettable 0-4 drubbing at the hands of China in the women’s hockey semifinals, a result that not only pushed the team out of the gold medal race but also denied it a direct entry to the Paris Olympics. Last edition’s silver medallist India, the highest-ranked team in the tournament at world number seven, was no match to world number China, who were the bronze medallist in 2018 in Jakarta. Jiaqi Zhong (25th minute), Meirong Zou (40th), Meiyu Liang (55th) and Bingfeng Gu (60th) scored the goals for China. China started on an attacking note put pressure on the Indian defence from the start. The Chinese managed to enter their opponent’s circle on frequent basis but failed to find the back of the net as the Indians defended stoutly.
China’s relentless pressure resulted in back-to-back penalty corners in the sixth minute but failed to get past India captain Savita in front of the goal.
The Indians made a few circle entries but failed to yield any results from them.
The Chinese secured another penalty corner in the 11th minute but once again Savita came to her side’s rescue.
Three minutes into the second quarter China earned another penalty corner but Bingfeng Gu’s flick was saved by Savita. The Indians looked completely out of sorts as the Chinese continued their domination.
The coordination between the midfield and forwadline was completely missing as India failed to create any clear cut scoring chance.
China, on the other hand, earned their fifth penalty corner in the 25th minute and Zhong made no mistake to hand the hosts the slender lead at half-time.
The Indians continued to play defensive hockey and the ploy backfired as China secured back-to-back penalty corners 10 minutes into the second half and Zou found the back of the net after getting a deflection from the stick of an Indian defender.
Trailing by two goals, the Indians finally started to wake up and started to press on the Chinese defence and got their first real scoring chance in the form of back-to-back penalty corners.
From the first set piece, Deep Grace Ekka sounded the board but the goal was disallowed for height and from the second chance Deep’s try was was saved by Chinese goalkeeper Jiao Ye.
The Indians finally started to put pressure on the Chinese defence but the attacks lacked sting.
However, India managed three more penalty corners, the second of which was converted by Udita but again the goal was disallowed for a raised ball.
The fourth and final quarter belonged to India but goals eluded them as all the 11 Chinese players fell deep to keep their lead intact.
With India going full-press, China took the opportunity with both hands and scored from a counter attack through Liang to drain the final nail on India’s coffin. In the final minute of the match China secured two more penalty corners, and Gu added salt to India’s wound.
India will now play the loser of the second semifinal between Japan and South Korea in the bronze medal match on Saturday. PTI SSC APA AT AT