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Happy Birthday Captain Rani Rampal! The lifeline of Indian women’s hockey team

Happy Birthday Captain Rani Rampal! The lifeline of Indian women’s hockey team

The Bridge Desk

Published: 4 Dec 2019 7:38 AM GMT

It was last year when the Indian women's hockey team successfully evaded an American heist and fulfilled the mission they set out to accomplish. The long road to Tokyo which had to be traversed following the loss to Japan in the Asian Games final was negotiated smoothly for the most part.

A bumpy final stretch very nearly threw the Golden Girls off balance – but much to the delight of their ardent fans, the Indians refused to stumble at the final hurdle thanks to a talismanic captain Rani Rampal who turns 26 today. In fact, there are two such crucial instances where Rani Rampal played decisive roles to take the Indian Eves to the Olympics. India's only women hockey player to receive the prestigious Khel Ratna award has been the lifeline for the team on many occasions.

Rani Rampal
Rani Rampal scored the decisive goal against USA at FIH Hockey Olympic Qualifiers

A wayward USA side surrendered the advantage to India after unnerving the hosts with a flurry of attacks early in the first leg of the Olympic qualifiers before going down by a 1-5 margin. A four-goal cushion seemed to be more than adequate for an experienced defensive line-up to handle but the Americans approached the second leg as if their lives depended on it.

Janneke Schopman’s chargers were faster, smarter, and lot more purposeful than the Indians who seemed rather taken aback by the pace and intensity on display. One goal followed another and the USA had four before the Indians had begun to get their act together – what was worrying for the hosts was the fact that they did not look threatening enough to score in the entire first half thanks to some great interceptions. However, it was captain Rani Rampal’s decisive goal with a powerful strike in the fourth quarter that ensured the Indian Eves a berth at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics by the goal aggregate, which went in India’s favour by 6-5.


Interestingly, in 2015 when the Indian women's team qualified for the Rio Olympics after a gap of 36 years, it was Rani who had played a key role. To qualify for the Rio Olympics, India played their last, must-win match at the Women’s World League Semi-Final, a match against Japan that India won 1-0, where it was Rampal who scored the goal.

It has been a momentous journey for the brilliant forward who began her career at the 2010 World Cup. Tokyo now beckons for a rejuvenated Indian side who have beaten the World Cup silver medalists (Ireland) and World Cup bronze medalists (Spain) on tour, before being involved in a series draw against the Olympic Champions in England.

Can an Olympic medal be on the horizon for the Indians? No dream seems too big, at the moment, for the resurgent Indians and skipper, Rani Rampal.

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