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India began their Women’s Hockey World League Semi-Final campaign with a 0-0 draw against hosts South Africa in Johannesburg on Saturday. Goalkeeper Savita was the star for India as performance stood out for the match.
Right from the start of the match, India controlled the game and attacked the opposition. They had better ball possession in the first 15 minutes which led to more circle penetrations. India earned their first penalty corner in the 12th minute but dragflicker Gurjit Kaur’s powerful strike was well defended by South Africa.
South Africa then changed the pace of the game in the second quarter and made more attempts at India’s goal including a stunning one from Tarryn Glasby. She went past few Indian defenders inside the circle and shot at the goal only to be denied by an alert Savita.
Both teams were goalless at half-time as South Africa’s best chance to score a goal went just wide. Savita made a diving effort to see the ball through.
The Indian team finally conceded a goal in the third quarter and the South Africa crowd went into frenzy. But, Indian players called for referral which showed that the ball had come off the back of the stick and the goal was denied. Despite being weak in the attack, India maintained the pressure on South Africa with the defence.
Both teams pushed for a goal in the final quarter, increasing the pace of the game and India were rewarded with a penalty corner in the 47th minute. But this as well, Rani’s striker was deflected wide. South Africa also pushed for a goal in the denying moments but Savita kept denying them. India will take on USA on July 10.