India managed only a 2-1 win against Azerbaijan despite adopting a more attacking approach in the second of the four-match women's hockey Test series at the National Stadium here on Monday.
Ritu Rani (18th) and Saba Anjum (41st) found the target for the home side, while Gyeonga Kim (23rd) led the fight for the visiting team.
Injuries to some players forced coach C.R. Kumar to alter his plan and introduce a few changes in the team for today's match. Younger legs made a marked difference as the midfield and the forward-line showed good combination to make umpteen raids on the rival citadel. Asunta Lakra and Kirandeep initiated the moves while Poonam Rani, Ritu Rani and Vandana Agarwal made the invasions.
India drew first blood after a series of fine moves from the left as Ritu scored from a scramble.
The visitors drew level five minutes later when Taejeong Han took the ball on the left to pass it to Kim for a well-timed deflection.
The host found it difficult to get the winner as Azerbaijan packed its defence and closed the gaps. Besides, some indecision in taking shots inside the circle was also responsible for the narrow margin of victory.
The absence of corner specialist Jaspreet, who missed the second half due to an injury, also contributed to India's poor showing in penalty corner conversion. The host wasted as many as seven short corners.
However, it was a well-planned penalty corner which broke the deadlock. Asunta launched a slapshot and Saba cleverly deflected it to the top of the net six minutes after the break.
Meanwhile, one of the prominent strikers, Rani Rampal, fractured a finger and missed a major part of the match.
The result: India 2 (Ritu Rani, Saba Anjum) bt Azerbaijan 1 (Gyeonga Kim).
Keywords: Indian hockey