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Rediff.com  » Sports » India bag bronze in U-21 women's hockey, beat Australia 3-2

India bag bronze in U-21 women's hockey, beat Australia 3-2

November 12, 2011 16:08 IST

Striker Anupa Barla scored two as India twice came back from a goal down to beat Australia 3-2 and finish third in the 22nd Lal Bahadur Shastri under-21 women's hockey tournament, in New Delhi, on Saturday.

India scored all their goals in the second session after conceding a 0-1 lead to Australia in the opening half. Barla struck in the 42nd and 65th minutes after captain Poonam Rani had found the target in the 37th minute.

Australia scored through Brooke Peris (32nd) and Kate Gilmore (41st).

The opening session was an even affair though Australia got more penalty corners than the home side -- three as against India's two.

Indian goalkeeper Sukmani Virk did an excellent job to deny any success to the Australians from the three penalty corners they got.

Just as it looked like the first half would end barren, Australia surged ahead with Brooke Peris sounding the board with a fine shot.

Egged on by a small home crowd at the Major Dhyan Chand Stadium, India earned two penalty corners immediately after the Australian goal but both were wasted.

Captain Poonam Rani was the culprit on the first occasion in the 33rd minute while Navjot Kaur failed to find target the next minute.

India, however, fought back in superb fashion in the second session which they dominated throughout with several raids in the opposition circle with the trio of Poonam, Anupa Barla and Navjot Kaur combining well upfront.

The home side equalised from the third penalty corner they got in the match five minutes after resumption with Poonam sounding the board.

Four minutes later, Australia again took the lead with an unmarked Kate Gilmore slotting home from a fine move.

India made it 2-2 just as the ball moved to the other end after the Australian goal with Anup Barla reverse-flicking home after a scramble in the striking area.

The home side then pressed for a winner with some fine moves from both the right and left flanks and from one such build-ups, Anup Barla was in the clear with just the opposition goalkeeper to beat but she pushed wide.

India, however, deservedly got the winning goal five minutes remaining in the match with Anup Barla firing in from the middle of the circle after a fine move had drawn the Australian defenders away to leave her unmarked.

India coach Sudarshan Pathak praised his wards for beating a strong side like Australia.

"Australians are just like European sides. They are physically strong and play fast-paced. But our girls matched them and beat them. It's an achievement," he said after the match.

"We played 4-4-2 formation. Our plan was to defend in the first half and look for mistakes of our opponents and then attack in the second half. The girls did just that and I am happy about it," he added.

The coach, however, conceded that his wards will have to improve their physical strength and stamina if they want to consistently win against top sides.

"Physical strength and stamina are something we have to improve upon. We are lacking in these. But with more exposure and training we will improve," Pathak said.

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