Indian women's hockey team made history by reaching their first-ever Olympics semi-final. India stunned the three-time champion Australia by beating them 1-0 in the quarter-finals at the ongoing Tokyo Olympics.
Gurjit Kaur's goal in the 22nd minute of the game will go down in the history books as it registered one of the most memorable victories. India will face Argentina in the semi-final stage. Gurjit's goal came from a penalty corner. It was also her maiden Olympic goal. From there on, India managed to deny waves of attacks from Australia. India conceded eight penalty corners but didn't let the Pool B toppers convert any chances into a goal.
Team Effort Counts
It was an all-around performance by India that caused one of the biggest upsets in women's hockey history. Seasoned goalkeeper Savita registered a 100% accuracy rate with 2/2 saves, keeping the Aussies at bay. Midfielder Monika, the last defender against penalty corners, cleared all the balls that came her way with a straight stick halt.
Experienced defenders Deep Grace Ekka and Udita stuck to man marking till the final hooter, denying the Aussies a chance to equalise. Finally, young forwards Salima Tete, Sharmila Devi and Lalremsiami kept the Australian defence frustrated with their inspired play and commendable tackles.
Comeback After A Poor Start
India had a poor start to their campaign, losing the first three games in Pool A against Netherlands, Germany and Great Britain. However, winning the last two pool games against Ireland and South Africa helped secure them a quarter-final berth, finishing fourth in Pool A. But it seemed a daunting task for the Indian women to beat Australia, who finished first in Pool B. Nonetheless, India's bold and courageous defending managed to bring them the victory against all odds.
Indian women's best finish came in the 1980 Moscow Games in their debut appearance when they finished fourth. However, the competition had only six teams participating. But earning a top fourth spot this time was even more special, as a match in the semi-finals also guarantees India a medal match for the first time at the Olympics.