The International Hockey Federation or FIH has introduced the World Hockey League to replace qualification tournaments for Olympics and the World Cup. India was bracketed in Round 2 as it could not qualify in the first round teams. The round 2 League matches were held during March 7-15, 2015 in New Delhi, where India emerged as the best team, after beating Poland 3-1 in the final on March 15, 2015. Eight nations participated in these fixtures, which were split in two pools of 4 teams each. India’s performance in Group stage was worthy of unstinted appreciation as they won all their 3 league matches by victories over Ghana 13-0 on March 7; Poland 2-0 on March 8 and Thailand 6-0 on March 10. In the quarterfinals played on March 12, Indian women outplayed Singapore 10-0 and in the semifinal, they defeated Thailand yet again 5-0. On March 15, the two finalists India and Poland met again after their Pool A league match and once again India overwhelmed the Poles 3-1. In six matches that they played during the tournament, India conceded just one goal to Poland in the final. This is ample testimony about the authority of India’s women hockey team in the tournament. With the conlcusion of the Round 2 World Hockey League, India and Poland have qualified for Round 3.
The final of FIH women’s Hockey World League Round-2 between India and Poland had a full house at Major Dhyan Chand stadium in Delhi. Since the home team had come through commendably after their league matches, the enthusiasm among viewers was at the zenith. Though Poland were beaten by India in the Pool A league phase, they didn’t want to yield so easily in the final. The Indian women were solid and determined from the start and attacked the Polish defense and created a chance within four minutes through a penalty corner. Though the chance was wasted, there was another two minutes later, when Rani Rampal sent a ball into the D but Anupa Barla’s deflection was saved by the alert Polish goalkeeper. In the 10th minute, India earned another penalty corner but again the Poland goalkeeper averted the danger. In the dying seconds of the first quarter, Vandana Katariya’s brilliant effort resulted in a 1-0 lead for India.
Poland found the equalizer within two minutes from the start of the second quarter through an intelligent variation in taking a penalty corner. The score of 1-1 hastened the pace of the game but no side could find the target and missed all goal-scoring chances coming their way. Much of this attack and counter-attack game continued in the third quarter as well. The closest chance fell in the lap of the Polish women, when they succeeded in another penalty corner variation but to their utter misfortune, ball rebounded after hitting the side post. With one minute left in the third quarter, Rani Rampal struck a stunning field goal to take India in the lead yet again. Then onwards, India did not let go of their grip in the match.
There was a heightened activity in the fourth quarter as both sides found scoring opportunities. However, the attempts didn’t get converted into goals. India enhanced their lead to 3-1 in the 59th minute from a counter-attack after Poland missed a penalty corner. This proved successful as Ritu Rani didn’t make any error shooting into the Polish goal. For the India skipper, it was a great way to mark her 200th international appearance as the goal also ended with the Round2 victory for India.
After the match, Ritu Rani expressed her happiness in India’s overall performance in the tournament, during which they scored 39 goals and conceded just one in the final game. Vandana Katariya was adjudged as the player of the match. Vandana emerged as the top scorer in the tournament with 11 goals against her name. Poland also bagged two awards at the end of the match. The first one was claimed by Marlena Rybacha as the Player of the Tournament while for her brilliant efforts in the goal; Marta Kucharska won the award for the best Goalkeeper of the Tournament.
In the matches to decide minor placements; Malaysia beat Thailand 3-0 to take the third place; Russia thrashed Kazakhstan 9-0 for the fifth spot and Ghana outlasted Singapore 2-1 to avoid the last spot.
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