Women's Asia Cup 2017: From Rani Rampal to Savita Punia, players who won the title for India after 13 years
Here's a look at the major players from India's women hockey team, who ensured the country defeated China to get the Asia Cup title after a gap of 13 years.
The Indian women's hockey team capped off a successful Asia Cup 2017 campaign, their first assignment under coach Harendra Singh, by clinching the title on Sunday. India defeated China 5-4 in a penalty shootout in the final.
The win comes after their male counterparts also won the Asia Cup trophy late October, making India Asian champions in both men's and women's division.
Here's a look at the team and the major players who helped India win the Asia Cup on Sunday.
Rani Rampal, the captain of the Indian team, was one of the stars of the tournament for India. She scored three goals during the course of the tournament while also scoring the decisive goal in the penalty shootout. Hailing from the Shahbad area in Haryana, Rani first debuted for India at the tender age of 14. She then went on to win the Young Player of the Tournament award at the age of 15 for her performance in 2010 hockey World Cup.
In the Asia cup, she scored twice in the opening game Pool match against Singapore, setting the tone for a tournament where India won most of their matches with big margins. Her other goal came up against China in the Pool A match, a team India faced once again in the finals.
Drag-flicker Gurjit Kaur, who continues the rich tradition of hockey players from Punjab, was one of the most valuable players for the country. She led the goal-scoring charts with eight goals.
The Jalandhar girl started the tournament with a solitary goal in the 10-0 victory against Singapore, but ensured that her performances kept on improving as the team moved towards the business end of the Asia Cup.
While the drag flicker continued her goal-scoring run in the matches against China and Malaysia, she was particularly menacing against Kazakhstan, scoring a hat-trick of goals through penalty corners.
Even against Japan in the semi-finals, Gurjit scored twice within the first 10 minutes, which helped India take control of, and eventually defeat, the defending champions.
Son of a mechanic in Kurukshetra, Navjot Kaur is now one of the veterans of Indian women's hockey team, having played for a country in over 100 games. Product of the Baldev Singh academy in Shahbad, Navjot was consistently on the score sheets for India, notching up five goals in the process. The forward scored twice against Singapore in the opener, while scoring one goal each against China in both the Pool match and finals, and also put one past the Japanese goalkeeper in the semi-final.
Another prominent player of the winning Indian hockey team is Navneet Kaur, who plays as a forward in the XI. Belonging to the state of Haryana, Navneet netted four goals during the tournament. Previously part of the Junior Women's Hockey World Cup team which won a bronze in Germany in 2013 alongside present captain Rani, Navneet scored twice against Singapore in their opening Pool A match.
She then followed it up with two more goals against Kazakhstan, helping India clinch a 7-1 win to move into the semis.
India's goalkeeper, Savita Punia, one of the best in the business, exemplified her value on Sunday, when she produced a stunning save in the penalty shootout against China to help India end the 13-year wait for an Asia Cup title.
The Sirsa-born goalkeeper, who is a veteran of over 120 games for her country, Savita ensured that India ended up conceding just five goals during their six-game journey. The vice captain earlier in 2017 claimed that she still borrows money from her parents for her expenses in an interview with Sportskeeda. Savita, who took up the game on her grandfather's advise, was promised a job by Haryana government under the ‘Medal Lao, Naukri Pao’ scheme, but nothing much has materialised ever since that announcement.
However, her starring role in the just-concluded Asia Cup has made it clear that she remains determined to perform her best for the country, no matter what.
Other than the aforementioned players, who played a decisive role in India's Asia cup win, here is the full 18-member squad which came together to make India the Asian champions once again.
Goalkeepers: Savita (vice-captain), Rajani Etimarpu
Defenders: Deep Grace Ekka, Sunita Lakra, Sushila Chanu Pukhrambam, Suman Devi Thokam, Gurjit Kaur
Midfielders: Nikki Pradhan, Namita Toppo, Monika, Lilima Minz, Neha Goyal
Forwards: Rani Rampal (Captain), Vandana Katariya, Lalremsiami, Sonika, Navneet Kaur, Navjot Kaur.
Subscribe to Moneycontrol Pro at ₹499 for the first year. Use code PRO499. Limited period offer. *T&C apply
The new format aims to maximise athlete participation and develop the game in the states, union territories, institutional units and academies.
Khelo India Winter Games: Prime Minister Narendra Modi to delivery inaugural address via video conferencing
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will deliver the inaugural address at the opening ceremony of the second Khelo India Winter Games to be held at Gulmarg in north Kashmir from 26 February to 2 March.
Mani also said that the Asia Cup scheduled to be held in June this year in Sri Lanka will need to be postponed if India qualifies for the World Test Championships final.