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February 09, 2004 17:59 IST
She was in excruciating pain and thought it was all over for her. But somehow she stayed on the field and brought off some breathtaking saves to help India beat Japan and win its maiden women's Asia Cup hockey title in New Delhi on Sunday.
Indian custodian Helen Mary not only withstood the onslaught of the Japanese strikers but also the pain of a fractured little finger for the entire 70 minutes in the summit clash, which India won 1-0.
"I sustained an injury to my little finger five minutes before the match during the warm-up," Mary revealed in Delhi on Monday.
"Since I had warmed up, I could keep the tempo but once the match was over I started to feel that something was really wrong and hence went for an X-ray," she said.
"It will now take about a month to heal," Mary added.
The team's goalkeeping coach, M R Negi, said Mary was fielded as the team management did not think the injury was that serious.
"She was feeling the pain and was also having problems in gripping the stick. But we applied an ice pack to her finger for some time and then she played," he said.
For her superlative display, Mary was adjudged the best goalkeeper of the tournament.