Indian women fight to hold Japan

Returning to the Olympics after a hiatus of 36 years, the Indian women’s hockey team showed tremendous fighting spirit and came from two goals down to eke out a 2-2 draw against higher—ranked Japan in its opening Pool B match here on Sunday.

HOORAY! Sushila Pukhrambam and Rani Rampal celebrate after the latter scored India's first goal in the third quarter

The Indians were trailing by two goals at half-time after Japan scored through Emi Nishikori (15th minute) and Mie Nakashima (28th).

However, the Indians fought back as Rani Rampal (31st) and Lilima Minz (40th) scored a goal each in the third and fourth quarters to secure points for their side.

India started well before losing the plot towards the end of the first quarter.

In the first 30 minutes, whatever chances India created, the strikers misfired inside the rival circle.

Japan, on the other hand, took time to settle down but got into the groove as the game progressed. Just 10 seconds before the end of the first quarter, India conceded a penalty corner and Japan broke the deadlock through a fine dummy goal from Nishikori.

In the second quarter, India enjoyed more possession but was guilty of giving away the ball too easily. Japan doubled the lead two minutes from half-time from a swift break through Nakashima who deflected in a cross from left which India captain Sushila Chanu failed to cut off.

The Indians earned their first penalty corner with the opening move of the third quarter and Rani was bang on target with a slap shot to reduce the margin.

India utilised the second of two more penalty corners it earned in the third quarter when Lilima scored from a rebound to level the scores.