Johannesburg, July 8 (IANS) Brilliant goal-keeping by Savita saw India hold hosts South Africa 0-0 in their first match at the Women’s Hockey World League Semi Final here on Saturday.
India made a strong start with a structured game, a better ball possession in the first 15 minutes. There were also some crucial circle penetrations made in the first quarter that fetched them a penalty corner in the 12th minute of the match. However, a fiercely struck flick by India’s dragflicker Gurjit Kaur was well-defended by South Africa’s first runner to deny India an early lead.
With the second quarter starting with the score reading 0-0, South Africa bounced back into the game with an improvised attack. They made two brilliant attempts on the goal. First it was Tarryn Glasby who beat Indian defenders in the circle to take a shot on goal, but an alert Savita was brilliant in her efforts to keep South Africa from scoring.
Sulette Damons’ shot on the goal was perhaps the best chance South Africa had to score but her powerfully struck shot was slightly off the mark even as Savita made a diving effort to defend. Both teams went into halftime in stalemate.
There was plenty of action in the third quarter with South Africa being backed by a roaring home crowd, and the support paid off when the home team scored through a field goal by Stephanie Baxter.
However, a clever call for video referral by India denied South Africa the goal as it came off the back of the stick.
India continued to keep the pressure on the hosts with a strong defence to keep them from making successful forays into the striking circle.
The final quarter witnessed both teams build up frantic pace, as both India and South Africa pushed for a goal.
India won their second penalty corner in the 47th minute but striker Rani’s attempt at scoring a penalty corner was denied by South Africa’s first runner who deflected the ball rather perfectly.
The following minutes saw South African forwards keep Savita busy at the post as they made tactical variations to take shot on goal. But she was exceptional in denying them a goal.
South Africa made eight unsuccessful attempts on goal with 34 circle penetrations while India had 15 circle penetrations and three shots on goal.
Though South Africa won their only penalty corner of the game in the dying minutes, Glasby was kept from converting the goal.
India, who share the points with the hosts after the 0-0 draw, will now face US on July 10.