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India women's hockey team creates history, reaches Olympic semi-finals for first time

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The Indian women’s hockey team created history on Monday when they defeated Australia 1-0 in the quarter-final of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. It is the first the women’s hockey team from India has qualified for the semi-finals of the Summer Games. They did finish fourth at the 1980 Olympics in Moscow, but the tournament only had six teams in total.

Against the mighty Aussies at the Oi Hockey Stadium on Monday, the team, led by Rani Rampal, dominated the proceedings, pushing Australia on the back foot early on. They not only dominated the possession, but also looked extremely threatening in front of the goal. 

However, it wasn’t until the second quarter that the deadlock was broken. India won their first and only penalty corner in the 22nd minute and dragflick specialist Gurjit Kaur was on hand to convert the opportunity.

Australia did up the ante in the second half, but India were organized enough to defend their lead. Furthermore, goalkeeper Savita made some excellent saves as well. The goalie, in fact, saved every single shot the Australian team had on target.

The Australians pressed high, kept making circle penetrations, but they just couldn't find a way to breach the Indian defence. With just three minutes left on the clock, the Australians earned a penalty corner. They took a shot, but Monika calmly tapped the ball away from the goal. Australia earned another penalty corner soon after and got very close to the goal, but the Indians held their nerve and directed the ball away.

“We are very very happy at the moment. I’m delighted to know that everyone is supporting us. It is always special to get that kind of support and I’m thankful to everyone. We’re happy that all the hard work has come down to this,” said the goalscorer Gurjit Kaur after the match.

With that being done, the Indian women’s hockey team will now take on Argentina women in the semi-final on Wednesday, August 4. Argentina defeated Germany 3-0 in the quarter-final and India will need to be at their brilliant best to beat the 2012 London Olympics silver medalist. 

Featured photo: Hockey India

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