The Indian women’s hockey team held Commonwealth Games champions England to a 1-1 draw in its opening match of the three-nation Torneo del Centenario 2023 in Terrassa, Spain on Wednesday.
Holly Hunt (7’) scored a field goal to give England an early lead but Lalremsiami (41’) converted a penalty corner to earn India a draw in the 100th Anniversary Spanish Hockey Federation International Tournament 2023.
The Indian hockey team, world No. 8 in the latest FIH rankings for women, made a cautious start to the match but was put on the backfoot early on as England, ranked fourth, found an early goal through Holly Hunt.
Holly Hunt, who scored to help England beat Australia in the Commonwealth Games 2022 final, beat India captain and goalkeeper Savita Punia with a well-placed shot from open play to give her team the lead as early as in the seventh minute.
Shaken by the early goal, the Indian women took up a more attacking stance in search of an equaliser but were denied by a well-drilled English defence.
Lalremsiami showed great individual skills to create two good opportunities in the second quarter but was denied on both occasions. England goalie Sabbie Heesh kept out one while the second fizzed narrowly wide of goal. The first half ended with England leading 1-0.
The second half started with England putting the Indian defence under pressure. England won the first penalty corner of the match minutes after the restart but it was deflected wide by the Indian defence.
The third quarter played out with England as the aggressors while India dropped deep to defend and looked to use their speed to catch the reigning Commonwealth Games champions out on the counter.
With about five minutes to go for the third quarter to end, India won back-to-back penalty corners and the second finally brought Janneka Schopman’s side level. Udita’s searing drive took a deflection off Lalremsiami and ruffled the English net.
Minutes later, Navneet Kaur threatened to put India ahead through another penalty corner only to be denied by the English goalkeeper. England won a flurry of penalty corners of their own to end the quarter but the Indian blockers stood firm.
With the win up for grabs in the final quarter, India looked the hungrier of the two sides and kept Heesh busy in the England goal. England, who beat Spain in their opening game on Tuesday, came back into the contest towards the end and turned the pressure right back on the Indian backline.
All the attacking play, however, failed to yield a goal as the hockey match ended level at 1-1.
The Indian women’s hockey team will play hosts Spain in the next 100th Anniversary Spanish Hockey Federation International Tournament match on Thursday.