Kazan (Russia):The profligate forwards of the Indian women's hockey team squandered numerous sitters but still managed a comfortable 3-1 win against Russia in their first match of the Olympic Qualifier on Saturday.
Fifteen-year-old Rani Devi scored in his debut match to open the account for India in the ninth minute when she deflected a Jasjeet Kaur pass. Russia drew parity with Anna Guteneva scoring in the first minute of the second half.
Jasjeet scored a field goal midway through the second half as India retained lead and then it was left to Pritamrani Siwach to seal the match with a goal two minutes before the hooter.
"We could have played better, but we are happy we got the full points in the first match," said captain Mamta Kharab.
India dictated terms in the first half but poor finishing let them down. Their penalty corner drill fell flat on its face against the lowly ranked hosts and the Russian defence did well to thwart experienced Suman Bala's direct hits on more than one occasion.
"India should have been up 3-0 in the first half which they thoroughly dominated. We could have played better," said Ric Charlesworth, Technical Director of the Indian Hockey Confederation.
After a sluggish 10 minutes of play, the Indian forwards started asserting themselves and got the dividend immediately. Captain Mamta Kharab set up a move which was capitalised by Jasjeet. The lanky forward passed the ball inside the circle to her village mate Rani Devi who did not waste the opportunity and her clever deflection got the better of the Russian defence.
Russia showed sense of urgency once the second session started. Within 40 seconds, they got their second penalty corner when Irini Kuzima's freehit hit an Indian defender. Anna somehow managed to put the ball over the line from a goalmouth melee to level the score.
After missing a string of sitters, Indian forwards finally made amends in the 48th minutes. Medio Asunta Lakra's freehit was deflected in by the ever-agile Jasjeet as India moved 2-1 up.
Towards the end, Pritamrani sent the ball home from a melee to seal the match in India's favour.
India will take on Netherlands Antilles tomorrow.
In other matches, United States survived a scare before beating Belgium 3-2, while Netherlands Antilles blanked France 2-0.