The Indian Junior Women's Hockey team continued their fine form in the FIH Hockey Women's Junior World Cup in South Africa as they registered their third consecutive victory in their pool D campaign.
They beat Malaysia 4-0, and will march into the quarterfinals of the prestigious tournament as the unbeaten table-toppers from their pool. For India, goals were scored by Mumtaz Khan (10', 59'), Sangita Kumari (11') and Lalrindiki (26').
India got off to a sensational start with the forward line playing to strategy, creating space in the attacking circle from the word go. Their efforts paid off when Mumtaz Khan made a brilliant deflection off a good assist from Lalrindiki in the 10th minute and in the very next minute, she assisted Sangita Kumari, who recently made her Senior debut at the FIH Pro League matches, to score India's second goal.
The Salima Tete-led team built on their game in the second quarter, improving their attack as they looked to extend the lead. Meanwhile, India's defence continued to hold strong. Goalkeeper Bichu Devi was once again the cynosure of the Indian defence as she made some important saves that kept up the pressure on the Malaysians. India did extend the lead to a comfortable 3-0 in the 26th minute when Lalrindiki scored from a good assist from Lalremsiami in the circle.
However, India would have been a tad disappointed with their PC conversion as they won 7 PCs during the course of the match but couldn't find success in converting them. While the Malaysian PC defence was spot on, India's execution was not up to the mark.
Not letting these missed opportunities affect their rhythm, the Indian Junior women much like their senior counterparts, rallied on their fitness to keep up the speed and energy in their game even in the final moments. Their defence, on the other hand, kept the Malaysian attack in check, not allowing them to create space in the circle.
The final quarter saw Malaysia put all their heart into stopping India from extending their lead. After several attempts, through potential shots on goal and a couple of PCs, India finally were able to score from a well-worked combination. It was Mumtaz Khan who picked up a good assist to push India's lead to 4-0.
After securing a fine win, Captain Salima Tete, also named Player of the Match, said, "It was a team effort and we are happy with the way we played. It feels great to go into the Quarterfinals without losing a single game. But the tournament actually begins now with the knockouts starting."
On Friday, April 8, India will take on Korea in the quarterfinal encounter.