Donghae: Navneet Kaur scored a hat-trick as India got off to a rollicking start with a 4-1 win over Japan in their opening match of the 5th Women’s Asian Champions Trophy hockey tournament on Sunday.
Navneet scored in the 7th, 25th and 55th minute while Anupa Barla (53rd) got the other goal for India at the Sunrise Stadium.
The Indian team was dominant right from the start as it displayed well-strategised attack to break the a strong Japanese defence. An early chance came by when forward Vandana Katariya and Lilima Minz worked in tandem to create space in the striking circle.
Navneet picked up an assist from Vandana to send the ball past Korean goalkeeper to give defending champions India 1-0 lead in the 7th minute. India played with speed, kept the ball possession and stayed consistent as they kept up the pressure on Japan. Good defence led by Skipper Sunita Lakra ensured Japan did not find too many chances in the circle.
Navneet showcased her abilities with the stick as she drove into the 25-yard mark and assisted experienced forward Vandana drive into the circle. Vandana’s clever return of ball from the right flank to an unmarked Navneet at the top of the circle saw her score a splendid goal, doubling India’s lead to 2-0 in the 25th minute.
India continued to keep up the momentum into the third quarter which was disrupted by rain. India won back-to-back penalty corners but Deep Grace Ekka and Gurjit Kuar could not convert. Japan too won three back-to-back PCs but could not beat the experienced India goalkeeper Savita.
India’s third goal came off a brilliant assist by Udita to Anupa Barla beat the Korean defender to send the ball into the net with a fierce hit in the 53rd minute. India’s fourth goal came off a counter attack when Japan missed their opportunity to score off a PC in the 55th minute. It was Navneet who was the in the thick of action yet again, taking the ball into India’s half, passed it to Udita until she could position herself to strike the ball past Korean goalkeeper with ease.
Though Aki Yamada scored a consolation goal for Japan in the 58th minute of the game, it did little damage to India’s feat.