Women look for turnaround

Women look for turnaround

One win in six games is not the start that an Olympic-bound team would want in their season-opening tournament.

For the Indian women’s hockey team, that was exactly the outcome of their journey to the Hawke’s Bay Cup in New Zealand.

They conceded 11 goals, scored four and finished sixth in the process at the eight-nation tournament. A disappointing show indeed.

“New Zealand was actually disappointing,” admitted head coach Neil Hawgood at the Sports Authority of India’s South Centre here.

“But when you take out 450 international caps — we left Ritu (Rani) behind, Anuradha (Thokchom) did her hamstring, Sushila (Chanu) did her knee — it’s a little bit of a disruption.

But it was still disappointing that we didn't actually play well enough,” he added. One of the factors that pegged the Indian side back was their tendency to concede early goals. While in the opening game against the hosts, India conceded the only goal of the game in the 16th minute, the problem escalated in the quarterfinal against Japan where their opponents punished the sloppy Indians with three goals in the opening quarter.

“It’s (conceding early goals) one of our biggest weaknesses. Against Japan, in a two-and-a-half minute period we let in three goals. Then the rest of the game was 1-0 to us. We just don't start well and historically we’ve always put ourselves behind,” Hawgood pointed out. “But having said that, we’re really focusing on our starts. It’s about being right for the start of anything: whether it's training, running, or going to the gym. Just make sure you're absolutely ready to do what you want to do,” he added.

While their defence struggled for the major part, the attack too didn’t have a commendable outing. Field goals were limited and short corners ended up way beyond the target.  And with injuries too taking a toll, is the side prepared for the Olympics three months from now?

“I think we’re still on track. Hawke's Bay would say that we weren't on track. But we've come back from there and in the last two (practice) games we've played better than we did in any game in New Zealand. We're playing a lot faster and people have realised that we're coming to a point where you've just got to put in the effort that's actually required,” asserted the Australian.

India next play Great Britain in a four-match test series, before making a trip down under to face Australia as they continue their preparation for the quadrennial carnival. The skipper Ritu wanted to use this opportunity to try themselves against the best in the business before the Rio Games.

“It a good opportunity for us to see were we stand. The teams we will be playing are the ones who will meet us at the Olympics too. So the test series will help us analyse their strengths and their weaknesses and prepare accordingly,” she said.

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