Buenos:Returning to international competition after a year, the Indian Women's Hockey team began their tour of Argentina with a 2-2 draw against the country's junior women's national team, here.
In a well-contested match on Sunday, young striker Sharmila Devi (22') and the experienced Deep Grace Ekka (31') struck for India.Chief coach Sjoerd Marijne lauded the performance of the Indian team.
"It was a typical first match after a long gap. Playing a competitive side after a year takes time to get into the rhythm and we played 23 athletes to give them all a feeling of playing in a match after a long gap," Marijne said in a statement issued by Hockey India.
India got off the blocks with an intent to attack in the first quarter. The team won two back-to-back Penalty Corners (PC) PCs in the 8th and 9th minute of play but they were well-defended by a strong Argentine PC defence. Though Argentina too was awarded a PC in the 11th minute, it was swiftly saved by an alert India custodian Savita.
The second quarter saw India set-up a fine goal via Sharmila in the 22nd minute providing the team a much-awaited 1-0 lead. However, Paula Santamarina of Argentina scored in the 28th minute to equalise.
India reimposed a lead soon after the second quarter when Deep Grace Ekka converted a PC in the 31st minute. The visitors defended well to keep up the 2-1 lead all through the third quarter and carried a good rhythm into the final quarter.
The home team bounced back in the final quarter to equalise with a fine goal by Brisa Bruggesser in the 48th minute. Though India tried to create one last haul before the final hooter, the home team's defence stood strong.A PC awarded to India in the 53rd minute was saved well eventually ending the match with a 2-2 scoreline.
"We will need to build on our rhythm match-by-match. We will be thoroughly analysing this match and the key will be to learn from the mistakes we made here and be ready for the next game," Sjoerd said.India will take on the Argentina junior women on January 20.(UNI)