India and South Africa served up a pulsating affair in a seven-goal thriller on Saturday morning at Oi Hockey Stadium in Tokyo. The Indians led three times only for the South Africans to peg them back, but eventually they got over the line in the final chukka.
South Africa and India met in the Women’s event at the Tokyo Olympics with both teams fighting for a place in the final 8, but both cognisant that it could also be their last game in the tournament.
India came out firing winning an early penalty corner, but before the game even started three long referrals took the momentum out of the early exchanges. India was the first to refocus and took the lead after a goal mouth scramble was bundled home. India was exerting the most force, which is when a South African will be the most dangerous and Tarryn Glasby restored parity with the deftest of touches to sneak the ball home with the final touch of the quarter.
India again gained the lead in the second quarter with Katariya playing the perfect deflection past Mbande. South Africa kept their composure, endured pressure and created a superb opportunity for Charne Maddocks that was spurned. But the African champions continued fighting and managed to level just before half time with skipper Erin Hunter (Christie) finishing a penalty corner. 2-2 the score at the break.
In the third quarter it was the Indians that landed the first blow as Katariya once again deflected a penalty corner home. They also had two great opportunities to stretch the lead but both times they were denied expertly by vice-captain Phumelela Mbande. And they would rue those chances as Marizen Marais burst into the circle and despite some tight challenges pushed the ball low and hard past the Indian Keeper to level the score. South Africa were growing in belief, but the quarter end came a bit too soon and it was 3-3.
The final chukka started with South Africa dominating proceedings winning three early penalty corners, but they were all well defended by India and the deadlock remained. But that deadlock was broken with 10 minutes remaining as Katariya completed a hat-trick of deflections at penalty corner time to make it 4-3.
South Africa thought they had a late penalty corner, but a video referral denied the opportunity and India saw out the game superbly that leaves them waiting eagerly on the result in the Ireland game later today. For South Africa