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Women’s FIH Pro League: Savita Punia helps India beat Germany in shootout

Indian women’s hockey team captain and goalkeeper Savita Punia made crucial saves in the shootout after the match ended 1-1 in regulation time.

Savita Punia played a starring role as India beat Germany 3-0 in a shootout in their FIH Pro League 2021-22 women’s hockey match at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar, Odisha on Sunday.

The regulation time ended at 1-1 with Nisha (40’) scoring the equaliser for the Indian women’s hockey team after Felicia Weidermann (29’) had put the visitors ahead.

Then India captain and goalkeeper Savita Punia thwarted all three shootout attempts from Germany while India made amends for last match’s blunders, with Salima TeteSangita Kumari and Sonika finding the back of the net. India had lost the shootout against Germany on Saturday.

India earned two points from the match, including the shootout bonus, while Germany took home one.

As per FIH Pro League rules, if scores remain level at the end regulation period (four quarters), the match is considered a draw and both teams get a point each. A shootout follows, and the winner of the shootout bags an extra bonus point.

After Sunday’s result, India moved up to the second spot in the FIH Pro League 2021-22 standings, with 12 points in six matches. Netherlands are on top with 12 points from four matches.

The Janneke Schopman-coached Indian team started strongly and had their first shot at the goal in just 15 seconds. India kept attacking throughout the opening quarter but the German defence held firm to keep the scoreline unchanged.

India’s constant incursions resulted in the first penalty corner towards the end of the first period. Mali Wichmann made a full stretch save to deny Monika’s searing shot, ending a goalless first quarter.

World No. 9 India, placed four places below Germany in the hockey rankings, continued the momentum in the second quarter, regularly reaching the final third, especially from the right flank.

Meanwhile, Germany also had their chances and one such attempt saw the visitors win a penalty stroke for a rash tackle on Paulina Heinz. Jette Fleschutz, however, could only hit the post.

Germany then won back-to-back penalty corners in the 37th minute and converted the second.

The clinical penalty corner started with the less popular running injection, followed by a wide flick from Carlotta Sippel, which was deflected in by Felicia Weidermann. Germany took a 1-0 lead at half-time.

Savita Punia and Co. put up an improved showing in the third quarter. A scramble in the German circle almost gave India the equaliser, only for Navneet Kaur to be denied by the German goalkeeper.

India’s perseverance bore fruit in the 40th minute with Nisha successfully guiding the ball in after a melee near the goalline.

The hosts kept testing the German defence for the remainder of the penultimate period and went into the final quarter 1-1.

Gurjit Kaur missed a penalty corner in the last period with a straight shot to the goalkeeper’s leg guard. A minute later, Germany also wasted a PC, shooting wide to the right.

The best opportunity for India came in the 57th minute but Sharmila Devi failed to tap in an open goal. Savita Punia saved two penalty corners in the dying seconds to force the shootout.

India will host England next, on April 2.

By Aarish Ansari

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