For once, the nerves failed the opposition. And the Indian women’s hockey team took full advantage of it, finishing on the podium of the junior World Cup for the first time, defeating England 3-2 on penalties in the bronze-medal play-off.
In fact, this is the maiden success for the Indian women’s hockey team, across age groups, at the world level. Their best before this was a fourth place finish, at the 1974 World Cup and the 1980 Olympics.
It was also the culmination of Rani Rampal’s success who, after promising so much in her maiden international outing three years back, fell by the wayside because of fitness issues. Rani scored the lone goal in the match and twice in the shootout. The teams were tied 1-1 at the end of regulation time.
Only 5 penalties converted
The extent of pressure can be gauged from the fact that of the total 16 strokes taken, only five were converted. But where Navneet Kaur managed to keep control of her second shot after wasting the first, Anna Toman failed.
Credit is also due to goalkeeper Bigan Soy, who stepped on the turf for the first time in the tournament in the shootout. If ever there was a case of keeping nerves, this was it. And Soy came out a winner, like the rest of the team.