|February 22nd, 2013|
|12||Round Robin||8:00pm||IND - JPN||2 - 2 (0 - 2) (2 - 3 PS)||Final||x 2|
Japan drew level with India at the top of the women’s Hero Hockey World League Round Two 2013 by virtue of a winning draw in the final game of day four in Delhi. It leaves it all to play for on the final day of the competition with both sides locked on ten points each, just one clear of Malaysia. The Japanese claimed two points for the second game running in a dramatic penalty shoot-out as captain Rika Komazawa once again was the heroine.
But India remain on top of the table by virtue of having won more games in the competition to date and so will win the competition on Sunday if they beat Russia. That outcome came as a result of an incredible late charge from India earned them their penalty reprieve as they scored twice between the 62nd and 64th minute to bring the tie level after Japan had looked the winners for the vast majority of the game.
They started like a house on fire, drawing an incredible save from Yogita Bali in the third minute when she got a brilliant palm to Yuri Nagai’s flicked effort after originally saving a reverse stick shot from the top. It went dangerous, though, and Shiho Sakai nailed her fifth goal of the tournament with a powerful low push from the ensuing penalty corner.
Bali was drawn into further saves from Miyuki Nakagawa on two occasions before Japan moved 2-0 up as half-time neared. It was from the set-piece again, this time Kumi Banda’s sweep was turned in on the right post by Akiko Ota.
It was no less than they deserved for a dominant first half but India responded well in the second stanza. Rani drew the best from Ryoko Oie, using her shoulder to deny a sharp effort. The game was opening up markedly at this stage as the hosts sought to keep their tournament hopes on track.
And they got a lifeline when a diving Soundraya Yendala latched onto Jaspreet Kaur’s corner move. That was with eight minutes to go and moments later the game was level, this time Rani’s reverse-stick cross was brilliantly turned in from close to the flick spot by Napa Barla.
It earned them a point but they were not able to reinforce that comeback with a bonus point as Japan held their nerve, moving 2-0 up in the shoot-out and thought they won in the fourth round only for Akiko Kato’s effort to be ruled out.
No matter, Komazawa scored her side’s next penalty to finally seal the deal, 3-2 in the shoot-out setting up a fascinating final day of the competition.