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Indian eves enter hockey final
March 23, 2006 14:27 IST
Last Updated: March 23, 2006 17:11 IST
Surinder Kaur's late goal assured India another medal, as the women's hockey team booked a place in the final, edging past New Zealand 1-0 at the 18th Commonwealth Games in Melbourne on Thursday.
India will meet favourites Austral in the gold medal play-off.
After a lacklustre first half, which ended goalless at the State Netball Hockey Centre, the Indian eves got their act together and intensified their attacks from the right.
And one such move paid off in the 62nd minute, when an alert Surinder Kaur deflected an excellent cross from Sabba Anjum to score the winning goal.
The forwards, led by Mamta Kharab, exhibited good coordination and purpose behind their moves to keep the New Zealanders on the backfoot.
Kharab, who made at least five attempts at goal, showed her usual flamboyance to launch several raids on the Kiwi citadel right from the start of the second half.
In the initial moments after the break, she got a precise pass from the right and fired a hit only to be stopped by Kiwi goalkeeper Beth Ellen Jurgeleit.
New Zealand resorted to some counter-attacks soon after and nearly scored twice after fooling the Indian defenders, but experienced Indian custodian Helen Mary stood like a rock and warded off dangerous shots from Frances Kreft.
Later, a good attempt by Stacey Carr also went in vain.
In the first half, India failed to forced even a single penalty-corner against New Zealand's three. But they earned three in the last 15 minutes of the match, though all turned out to be futile.
The joyous moment came eight minutes before the final hooter. Saba Anjum sent a fast cross from the right flank, and an unmarked Surinder deflected the ball into the goal as Indian supporters burst into raptures.
Minutes after, the Kiwis missed a golden chance to equalise as Honor Dillon fumbled in front of goal, with Helen Mary down, after receiving an accurate pass. Mary took full advantage of the situation and put the ball away from Dillon's reach.
The Indians quickly regained control of the game, resorting to attack, but were unable to score again.
In the other semi-final, Australia posted a convincing 3-0 victory over England. Suzane Faulkner, Kate Hollywood and Emily Halliday scored a goal each in hosts' victory.
The final will be held on Saturday.