Indian eves win Commonwealth hockey gold
Capping their giant-killing spree, India overcame stiff resistance from England in a high-tension final in Manchester on Saturday to win their first-ever gold medal in the women's hockey at the Commonwealth Games.
The 3-2 victory came via a golden goal when livewire forward Mamata Kharab struck in the dying moments of the first half of extra-time after both sides were locked 2-2 in regulation time.
This was the second golden goal victory for the Indians in this competition after their dramatic 4-3 victory against South Africa in the play-off for the semi-finals.
This match too had its share of drama as the golden goal, off a penalty corner, was initially disallowed by referee Ashton claiming it was scored after the hooter signalling the end of the first half of extra time went off.
But the decision was changed after discussions between the two field umpires who ruled that the ball had not gone out of the circle after the penalty corner was taken and, according to the rules, play was still on even after the end of time.
Earlier, the Indians began the match on a cautious note against the hosts who made at least half a dozen attacks during the first 15 minutes of the match itself.
However, England missed several opportunities with the shots from their forwards either going wayward or being saved by the Indian goalkeeper.
Helen Grant was the main culprit failing to beat the goalkeeper twice inside the circle.
India shot into the lead against the run of play when Mamata Kharab scored off a penalty corner in the 21st minute.
Mamata Kharab drew first blood when she converted the first penalty corner awarded to India for an infringement by England inside the circle.
Though the umpire had first awarded a penalty stroke, she later changed her decision after consulting with her fellow umpire.
The goal changed the entire scenario as India became more aggressive, which helped the side to get four penalty corners in quick succession. Sita Gossain made the most of it to give India a 2-0 lead just before the half time.
England fought back in the dying moments of the first half and reduced the margin just a minute before the breather through a controversial field goal by skipper Sarah Blanks.
Blank deflected a ball from a pass from L King, which was hit powerfully and rose in the air. The Indians appealed for the hit to be declared dangerous but the referee overlooked the claim and awarded the goal.
Ten minutes into the second half, England struck again and tied the score with a field goal by Jene Smith. Her hit got deflected from the stick of Mamata Kharab before ending up inside the Indian goal-line.
England dominated the possession after that, making repeated forays into the Indian striking circle but an alert Indian defence thwarted all attempts.
Both the teams made good moves towards the end of the regulation time but could not convert their chances, forcing the match to go into extra-time.
England forced a penalty corner in the very first minute of extra-time and came tantalisingly close to scoring the golden goal.
A powerful hit by an English forward was saved just before the goal mouth by Mamata Kharab.
India kept up the counter-attack and were awarded a penalty corner just 10 seconds before end of the first session of extra-time.
Mamata Kharab pushed the ball and Sita Gossain unleashed a powerful hit that was stopped by a diving England goalkeeper. The ball, however, escaped from her arms and a rushing Mamata tapped it in.
India - Mamata Kharab 21 and 78; Sita Gossain
England - Sarah Blanks 34; Jene Smith 45.
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