FIH Women's Pro League: Battling India go Down 0-1 to Netherlands
FIH Women's Pro League: Battling India go Down 0-1 to Netherlands
Albers Felice netted in the 27th minute of the game for the Dutch, while the host side were condemned to their fifth defeat in six Pro League games.

The Indian women’s hockey team dished out a much-improved defensive show against powerhouse Netherlands but lack of sharpness and innovative moves upfront saw them lose the FIH Pro League match 0-1 to the world No. 1 side here on Wednesday.

This was the home team’s fifth defeat in six Pro League games so far and it came about thanks to a superb 27th-minute field goal by Albers Felice for the reigning Olympic, world and Pro League champions.

This is the Savita Punia-led India’s second loss in the Pro League to the Dutch. They had lost to the visitors 1-3 in Bhubaneswar a week ago.

The Dutch were clearly the better side but credit to the Indian defence, especially goalkeeper Savita, who stood tall amid a barrage of attacks to deny the rivals more goals.

The Dutch had to wait till the 27th minute for the all-important goal. Elzemiek Zandee made a fine run into the circle and sent a scorching shot towards the goal. Though Savita booted it away, Albers deftly controlled the high ball and poked it past the goalkeeper.

The goal was the result of relentless pressure put on the Indian defence by the Dutch midway through the second quarter.

Just minutes before, Savita had effected a fine save with her quick anticipation and reflexes, denying Albers, who had driven into the circle from the left and played a cross towards the far post.

Savita, displaying fine anticipation, quickly changed the direction of the ball after it had got deflected by a defender’s stick.

Barring those two occasions, one of which resulted in a goal, the first half was evenly matched with Lalremsiami coming up with a couple of circle penetrations in the first quarter but losing momentum near the goal.

The Dutch too earned three penalty corners in the first quarter but fine defensive work by the home team saw the visitors failing to open their account.

India did have their chances after half time but they missed penalty corners aplenty to see the Dutch walk away with a win.

India’s perennial issues with penalty-corner conversion continued, with the side earning three back-to-back set-pieces in the third quarter but failing to convert even a single.

The last one in the series was especially galling as experienced Vandana Katariya tried to deflect Deepika’s drag-flick and catch the Dutch defence off guard, but the ball flew wide of the goal.

Before that Mumtaz Khan too came close to levelling the score after Jyoti fired in a cross from the right. Mumtaz controlled the ball superbly and unleashed a powerful low drive, but was unlucky to find the outside of the goal.

Savita had a momentary brain fade in the 38th minute for which she was shown the yellow card and sent off for five minutes. The veteran goalkeeper kicked the ball outside the circle and the referee had no hesitation awarding a penalty corner to the Dutch.

Dicke Plen took the penalty corner but substitute goalkeeper Bichu Devi came up with a fine save to keep her team in the match.

Savita returned to the field to a barrage of attacks and a flurry of penalty corners being awarded to the Dutch in the last quarter, but the Indian defence stood firm to deny the No.1 side any more goals.

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