China 3 – 0 Australia.

LAUSANNE, Switzerland – The Netherlands women extended their unbeaten run on the second day of action at the FIH Hockey Pro League mini-tournament in Bhubaneswar, India on Sunday. The Dutch ground out a 3-1 win over a fired-up Indian side in what proved to be an entertaining encounter.

Earlier in the day, the Hockeyroos’ first match back in the international fold in five months ended in defeat to China. China had a short turnaround between matches and had to absorb some early pressure before going on to beat Australia 3-0. The first quarter was played at a low tempo with the Hockeyroos doing more attacking and China trying to catch them on the break. The Chinese clicked up a gear in the second quarter and earned a couple of penalty corners, but Jocelyn Bartram was solid in goal for Australia and there was still no score at half-time.

China broke the deadlock in the third quarter, however, Yuan Meng beating the keeper from an acute angle off a loose ball. Yu Anhui then made it 2-0, throwing the defence out of shape with a good turn in the D and striking accurately. The Australians tried to fight their way back but looked uncharacteristically inaccurate and sluggish, and it was China’s Meng who had the final word in the fourth quarter, escaping all markers at the top of the circle and slamming in her second goal unchallenged. The Hockeyroos are likely to improve as they get going again after five months away from international hockey, but China executed their plans far better on the day and were well-deserved winners.

India 1 – 3 Netherlands.

The player of the match award went to China’s Yuan Meng who was pleased with the team’s performance, saying: “We played really positively and we decided to win the game.”

Hot favourites, the Netherlands had to work incredibly hard for their 3-1 victory against India. The Dutch started fast, Indian goalkeeper Savita being called on to make two saves within the first 70 seconds of the match. Yibbi Jansen eventually opened the scoring in the third minute, the raw power of her drag flick undoing Savita. However, India looked lively and Navneet Kaur fired in a quick shot from the top of the circle to equalise. There was more exciting end-to-end hockey through the second quarter but only one goal with Fay van der Elst outmanoeuvring her marker to deflect one in for the Dutch to lead 2-1 at half-time.

The Netherlands punished India for soft turnovers early in the second half, Jansen rocketing her drag flick high into the net off a penalty corner, and the Dutch then began to assert control over the pace of the match, holding possession and depleting the Indians’ energy. The Dutch will no doubt take lessons from the closest encounter they’ve had in the tournament so far, while India will take tremendous confidence from the way they tested a highly fancied opponent.

Laura Nunnink was named player of the match for the Netherlands and reflected on the close contest, saying: “I think India plays very well and we were not as good as yesterday, so we have some things to improve on. I think we can do better but I think India played really well. We are very happy, we want to win every game of course and we want to win the Pro League.”

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Author: Manit Keawnamom