India’s women's hockey team fought valiantly in the first two quarters before losing steam and went down 1-5 to world No. 1 the Netherlands in their opening pool match at the Tokyo Olympics on Saturday.
Felice Albers (6th, 43rd minute) scored a brace for the Netherlands, while Margot van Geffen (33rd minute), Frederique Matla (45th) and Caia Jacqueline van Maasakker (52nd) were the other goal-scorers for the three-time champions and reigning Olympics silver medallists.
India's lone goal was scored by skipper Rani Rampal in the 10th minute.
Earlier, India's men's team defeated New Zealand 3-2 in their opening match at the Games.
It was a closely-contested affair in the first two quarters with the brave Indian defence, led by goalkeeper Savita Punia, showing tenacity to thwart the Netherlands' persistent raids.
The Indians too showed spark in between and mostly relied on counter attacks to surprise the Dutch.
The Netherlands took the lead in the sixth minute through Albers, who tapped home from close range a diagonal ball before the advantage was evened out by Rani Rampal in the 10th minute with a hit from the top of the circle.
Thereafter, it was the Netherlands all the way as they repeatedly attacked in numbers and in the process secured four penalty-corners.
The Indians defended stoutly and weren’t afraid of putting their bodies in the line of fire. Goalkeeper Savita Punia was brilliant, effecting some decisive saves to frustrate the Netherlands.
After going to half-time locked at 1-1, the Dutch came out all guns blazing after the change of ends and pumped in three goals to nip any chance of an upset.
They started on a bright note after the change of ends and earned a penalty-corner three minutes into the third quarter which was deflected into the goal by van Geffen to restore Netherlands's lead.
The Dutch then scored twice in quick succession through Albers (43rd) and Frederique Matla (45th) to take control of the proceedings and virtually shut the doors of a comeback for India.
If that was not enough, there was more agony in store for the Indians as Caia Jacqueline van Maasakker slammed home from their sixth penalty-corner in the 52nd minute.
The difference in the level of both the teams can be gauged from the fact that the Netherlands secured as many as six penalty-corners as against India's none.
India will play Germany in their next Pool A match on July 26.
India women’s team is playing in their second successive Olympics, having featured in the Rio Games for the first time in 36 years.