It was a double delight for the Indian women’s hockey team as they edged out Korea 3-2 to sail into the Asia Cup final, which also assured them a berth in the 2010 World Cup in Argentina.
Jasjeet Kaur struck twice and Rani Ramphal also found the net to put India 3-0 ahead in the semifinal before the Koreans mounted waves of attacks and twice breached the defence to inject fresh drama in the match that, at one stage, had threatened to be a lop-sided affair.
In Sunday’s summit clash, India will lock horns with China, who beat Japan by a solitary goal scored by Zhou Yu Diao.
With today’s win at the Queen Sikirit sports Centre, the Indian eves qualified for the 2010 World Cup to be held in Rosario, Argentina.
After missing a one-to-one situation, Saba Anjum earned India’s first penalty corner and Jasjeet’s powerful drag-flick put India ahead in the eighth minute.
India could not make any further dent on the Korean defence but Jasjeet again scored a peach of a goal early in the second half to give India a 2-0 lead. Rani later latched on to a midfield pass to score an athletic goal and India were cruising at 3-0 in the 55th minutes.
But Korea did not throw in the towel just yet and instead struck twice to make a match of it.
The Indians survived some torrid moments as Korea forced two penalty corners at the stroke of the hooter but the gritty Indian defence managed to thwart both to keep their lead intact.
India got a number of chances in the match but it did not bear fruit because of poor finishing by the forwards.
Midway through first half, Saba and Surinder Kaur set up Rani Ramphal only to see her effecting a feeble shot. On another occasion, Rani’s sliding shot was well anticipated by the goalie Young Hui Moon.
With neat interception and tight marking, India dominated the first half. Korea did win three penalty corners in succession, but the usually sharp Seul Ki Cheon was rendered ineffective by the Indian defenders.
Goalie Deepkia Murthy stopped two rebounds and the other one was saved on the line by alert Ritu Rani.