With the clash against England, Indian women gear up for the first real Test

cwgBirmingham: Revenge will be on the mind of the Indian women’s hockey team when they take on England here on Tuesday, in what will be their first real test at the ongoing Commonwealth Games.

The Indians have registered back-to-back victories – 5-0 over Ghana and 3-1 against Wales – in their first two Pool A matches but the Swetha Punia-led side were far from convincing in their display.

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But come Tuesday, there should be added motivation for India as this is the same English side, which dashed their medal hopes at the Tokyo Olympics. The team came close to winning their first Olympic medal before losing 3–4 to England in the bronze medal playoff match.

To add to this, it was England again who denied India a medal in the last CWG in Gold Coast. The Indians then went 0-6 in the bronze medal match and missed out on a podium finish.

So, naturally Indians will be ready to retaliate.

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But that would be easier said than done as England is ranked fifth in the world rankings while India is ranked ninth.

The Indians will take heart from the fact that they drew 1-1 with England in the recently held World Cup which was co-hosted by Spain and Holland.

“England are a good team and they have home advantage in Birmingham as well. It will be a challenging match for us, but we have been in good form after our first two wins,” said captain Savita.

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“We have played England a few times in the recent past, so both teams know each other well. They’ve won some big matches against us as well, so they’re a strong team, but we’ve done our homework and it will be all about getting the basics right on the day.

“This is an important game in the competition and we are focused on our goals,” he added.

Although Gurjit scored a few penalty corners in the competition, the conversion rate is a major concern for India head coach Janek Schoepmann.

If India wants to beat England, the forward line also needs to be at its best. Vandana Kataria has been the star performer for India in the strike force, scoring two poachers against Wales but needs more support from the likes of Lalramsyamy and Sharmila Devi.

The team also needs to work on their link-up play between the midfield and forward line to create more chances from open play.

A win on Tuesday will ensure India’s place in the semi-finals. The Indians will conclude their pool engagement against Canada on Wednesday.

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