The Indian Women’s Hockey Team does not have an enriched past compared to the Men’s team but, they have had some notable laurels t boast about. The Women’s Hockey Team came fourth in the 1974 World Cup behind Netherlands, Argentina and Germany. They also came fourth at the Moscow Olympics 6 years later behind Zimbabwe, Czechoslovakia and Poland.
The “Golden Girls of Hockey” also won the gold medal at the 1982 Asian Games at Delhi where the heavily-favoured Men’s Team won the silver medal.
The women’s hockey team also won the bronze medal at the 1986 Asian Games at Seongnam, South Korea. The end of the 20th century saw the Women’s team clinching the silver medal at the 1998 Asian Games and at the 1999 Asian Cup.
Performances of the Women’s hockey team from 2000-present
The 21st century saw the Golden Girls of Indian Hockey winning the gold medal at the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester. They once again had a podium finish and won the silver medal in the 2006 Commonwealth Games at Melbourne and the bronze medal at the Asian Games in Doha that very year. The Indian eves also won the gold medal at the Asian Cup in 2004 and the silver medal in the 2009 tournament.
This decade has seen some fine performances from the Women’s Team. The start of the decade saw some underwhelming performances from the Golden Girls of Hockey as they came 5th at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi and 4th at the Asian Games at Guangzhou.
The team’s performances improved from 2014 onwards. In 2013, the team clinched the bronze medal at the Asian Cup in Kuala Lumpur. The following year, they came 5th at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, but won the bronze medal at the Asian Games in Incheon.
Last year (2017), the Women’s team made the country proud by winning the gold medal at the Asia Cup in Gifu. This year (2018), the women’s hockey team came fourth in the Commonwealth Games at Gold Coast.
The women’s hockey team – The present situation
The current setup of the Indian Women’s Hockey Team has many talented players like Navjot Kaur, Gurjit Kaur, Deepika Thakur and of course, skipper Rani Rampal. The team consists players who have a massive calibre and have what it takes to perform at the bigger stage.
We are only a few months away from the commencement of the Women’s Hockey World Cup at London. While the Indian Team can be expected to put up a strong fight, their record in International tournaments lately doesn’t favour them much.
The biggest example of India’s failure to deliver in major international tournaments is the World Hockey League in which they have played three editions within 5 years.
In the 2012-13 edition, India received a bye to Round 2 by virtue of being among the top 16 nations (they were 11th). In Round 2, India only drew one match against Japan and thrashed their opponents in the remaining games. They eventually topped their group by virtue of having more wins than Japan and qualified for the semi-finals.
In the semi-finals, India were pooled alongside New Zealand, Germany and Belgium. India drew against Belgium but were trounced by New Zealand and Germany. In the quarter-finals, India were up against favorites Netherlands and were thrashed 8-1.
In the 5th– 8th position crossover, India were thrashed 0-4 by Japan and had to play Chile in the 7th-8th place playoff. India defeated Chile 2-1 to end 7th in the semi-final stage and finished 14th position in the tournament.
In the 2014-15 World Hockey League, India received a bye to Round-2 by virtue of being among the teams ranked 12th-19th.
In Round-2, India were pooled alongside Poland, Thailand and Ghana. The Golden Girls won all their matches and topped the group. In the knockout stage, India thrashed Singapore and
Thailand in the quarters and semis by the score lines of 10-0 and 5-0 respectively. They eventually defeated Poland in the final to qualify for the semi-finals.
In the semi-finals, India were pooled alongside New Zealand, Australia, Belgium and Poland. India put up a fight against Australia and Belgium but lost both games.
They defeated Poland 3-1 to qualify for the quarter-finals.
In the quarter-finals, India were once again pitted up against Netherlands and were thrashed 7-0. In the 5th-8th place crossover, India were up against Italy and they won 5-4 on penalties.
India thus qualified for the 5th– 6th place playoff and defeated Japan 1-0 to end the semi-final stage in 5th position. They eventually ended the competition in 10th position.
In the 2016-17 edition, India once again received a bye to Round 2.
In Round-2, India were pooled alongside Uruguay and Belarus. The Golden Girls drew against Uruguay but defeated Belarus to top their group.
By virtue of topping their group, India automatically qualified for the semi-finals of Round-2. They once again locked horns with Belarus and smacked them 4-0 to qualify for the final.
In the next match , India beat Chile 3-1 on penalties to qualify for the semi-finals. In the semi-final stage, India were pooled alongside Argentina, USA, South Africa and Chile.
The Golden Girls drew against South Africa, defeated Chile but were comfortably beaten by USA and Argentina to end fourth in their group and qualify for the quarter-finals. In the quarter-finals, India were thrashed 4-1 by England and were eliminated from the World Hockey League. In the 5th-8th place crossover, India were up against Japan and were beaten 2-0.
The eves then played the 7th-8th place playoff against Ireland and took the lead but the Irish added two goals and won the game 2-1. India eventually ended the World Hockey League in 16th position.
Hence, India’s inability to shine in major international tournaments is something that can make people think that they might not be able to produce a very strong performance at the World Cup.
India’s women’s hockey team and chances at the World Cup
10th ranked India have been pooled in a pretty tough group alongside England, USA and Ireland. England are currently ranked 2nd while USA are ranked 7th. Ireland are ranked below India but they did beat India in the World Hockey League a few months back.
If the Golden Girls are to reach the playoff stage then they have to end 2nd or 3rd in their group. India will be targeting Ireland as they are the team who India has the highest chance of defeating. However, as previously mentioned by their former coach Sjoerd Marijne, the Indian Women’s hockey team has talent.
Additionally, they defeated England during the Commonwealth Games. Hence, it wouldn’t be much of a surprise if they give the likes of England and USA a run for their money.