The Indian women’s hockey team beats Japan 3-1 in a thriling final encounter and wins the FIH Women’s Series Finals in Hiroshima on Sunday.The Indian skipper Rani Rampal opened the score line for India from a penalty corner in the third minute. Japan displayed a rousing come back, when in the 11th minute, Kanon Mori equalised beating Savita’s attempt.
Both teams’ fight for possession continued as they reached the half-time with scores levelled. In the final minute of Q3, India won a penalty corner and drag-flick ace Gurjit Kaur made no mistake to post the ball past the Japanese goalie to make it 2-1.
Japan tried hard to fall back with barrages of attacks in the Indian front. In the final minute of the proceedings, India won another PC and Gurjit’ stroke again came as a winner when she posted the drag-flick into the top corner.
India’s victory came after a long trophy drought. On Saturday, the team won against Chile in the semi-final to seal their spot at the FIH Olympic Qualifiers.
An elated captain Rani Rampal said on her arrival to India, “We had lost to Japan in the 18th Asian Games Final last year and had to settle for the Silver Medal. This win against them, beating Japan in their home ground was like a sweet revenge.”
“The only thing I told the girls before the Final was that, we should not have any regret after the Final or ever feel that we could have played better. We came here for 500 ranking points so we need to play as a team with all our heart and ensure we succeed,” recalled Rani of the team meeting on the eve of the Final.
Having won this tournament with full gumption, Rani and her team are hopeful of playing the Olympic Qualifying event later this year in front of a home crowd. “Having won this tournament, our chances of playing in front of a home crowd and having that home advantage is realistic and we have waited for this moment for a very long time. The last time Indian Women played in front of a home crowd was in the 2012 Hockey World League Round 2 in New Delhi and many of the players from the current Indian team are eager to play at home for the first time,” stated an elated Rani.