The inability of the forwardline to provide the ‘clinical final finish’ has been hurting the Indian women’s hockey team in the 14th Women’s Hockey World Cup – the script was no different when the Blueskirts locked horns with hosts Spain in Terrassa. Profligacy was the order of the day as the Indian hockey eves exuded promise to dart inside the Spanish ‘D’ only to bungle opportunities one after another – of course, one cannot deny the phenomenal goalkeeping by Melanie Garcia. Indian skipper Savita was also at her best, thwarting threats posed by Spain on a consistent basis even though she did not receive adequate support from her backline. Deep Grace Ekka was as usual sluggish and looks to be well past her prime – the likes of Udita, Gurjit Kaur and Nikki Pradhan were found wanting when hustled out of their stride by their Spanish opponents.
India forced four penalty corners and drew a blank – lack of PC conversions has been a real headache for the Janneke Schopman-coach Indian outfit – in all four games the team earned 32 shorties and could convert only three – the big problem is the team appears to be run out of ideas when direct drag-flicks from Gurjit Kaur are not fetching the desired results. All the indirect variations attempts lacked purpose and conviction. Spain was well served by their inspirational captain Georgina Olivia, who was all over the pitch – she was stout in deep defence as well as manning the midfield and assisting the forwardline.
Spain upped the ante in the second half after the goalless first half – Lucia Jimenez, Begoña Garcia, Beatriz Perez, and Segu Marta all played their part and kept India under the pump. Just when one thought the match would stretch beyond normal time, Spain produced the match-clincher – Clara Ycart made a sizzling run from the right weaving past the likes of Deep Grace Ekka, Gurjit Kaur, and Udita to supply a sublime pass to Segu Marta, who slotted home amidst thunderous applause from the home crowd. Spain ran down the click well and held the ball in the dying moments to trigger their quarterfinal passage where they would take on Australia.