Hiroshima: Drag-flicker Gurjit Kaur, who has been on a song, struck twice after skipper Rani Rampal provided the lead as India outplayed hosts Japan 3-1 to clinch the FIH Women’s Series Finals, here Sunday.
Leading from the front, captain Rani found the net as early as third minute but Japan’s Kanon Mori equalised in the 11th minute. Gurjit scored in the 45th and 60th minutes to lead India to an emphatic victory.
World No.9 India had already qualified Saturday for the FIH Olympic Qualifiers 2019 after securing a place in the summit clash of the competition. Rani was adjudged the best player of the tournament while Gurjit emerged the top-scorer.
The Indian skipper struck the ball sweetly along the ground, beating Japanese goalkeeper Akio Tanaka on her right side to give India a 1-0 advantage.
India’s dominance saw them win their second penalty corner in the ninth minute, but the team gave fouled during execution. Japan were unable to many opportunities as they could only manage two circle entries in the entire first 15 minutes.
But, during the second, they scored to restore parity in the match. Sakurako Omoto picked up the ball at the 25-yard line, and played a pass on the right flank to Yuri Nagai, who in turn sent in a hard hit across the Indian goal mouth. Mori dived forward and deflected the ball past Indian custodian Savita.
India also dominated the second quarter. Forward Vandana Katariya missed an easy opportunity in the 18th minute by shooting wide.
Japan tried to create chances by using the flanks, but India’s defensive cohesion made sure that they did not concede again. The likes of Sushila Chanu and Lilima Minz stepped up to help break Japanese attacks, and rotated the ball comfortably to create opportunities for India.
India stepped up their attacking flair again in the opening minutes of the third quarter winning two penalty corners but could not convert. At the fag end of the third quarter, India earned a penalty corner when Rani was fouled. Gurjit gave India the lead with a rasping hit to the left of the Japanese goalkeeper.
India again controlled the fourth quarter. With just five minutes remaining in the match, Japan decided to take off their goalkeeper for an extra outfield player. It helped them create some half chances. However, it also worked against them in the last minute of the match as Gurjit scored her second goal from a penalty corner to make it 3-1 and wrap up the victory for India.