Hockey: Indian skills baffle England

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The Independent Online
SALLY GIBSON gave England a splendid start to the second of their two Tests against India at Down Grange, Basingstoke yesterday with a second- minute goal, but after this bright opening, India were allowed to settle and then to grab an equaliser. With the second consecutive game ending in a 1-1 draw, the match then went to a penalty shoot-out where India triumphed 4-3 to win the Haines Watts Crystal.

England's goal had stemmed from good approach work from Tina Cullen, but as in Saturday's game, England were baffled by the close, intricate skills and the speed of the fast- moving Indian players, and were given an object lesson in making full use of the width of the pitch. It was only the determination of England's defence, in which Chris Cook was outstanding, and the hard-tackling midfield in which Sam Wright and Sandie Lister never stopped running, that prevented India achieving a clear-cut victory.

India's equaliser came from Pritam Rani in the 22nd minute, following a penalty corner. There was still plenty of time for misses at both ends, with England failing to convert seven penalty corners.

'Just what we wanted,' Sue Slocombe, England's coach, said after the game. 'We get so little practice playing against Asian-style hockey and their spoiling tactics. It was invaluable experience and we proved that we can, with patience, create chances.' But, she added: 'We must now work on our finishing.'

Earlier, England's Under- 21s had beaten the full Austrian side 3-0, building on the previous day's 1-0 victory.

ENGLAND: H Rose (Ipswich); J Atkins (Bradford Swithenbank); M Davies (First Personnel Sutton Coldfield), H Whalley (First Personnel Sutton Coldfield), C Cook (Hightown); S Wright (Slough), S Lister (Ipswich, capt), J Smith (Chelmsford); S Gibson (Trojans), J Sixsmith (First Personnel Sutton Coldfield), T Cullen (Hightown). Substitutes used: M Nicholls (Ealing), L Bayliss (First Personnel Sutton Coldfield), K Johnson (Balsam Leicester), A Swindlehurst (Clifton).

INDIA: S D'Mello; S Kaur, M Tirkey; H Soy; R Rai (capt), D D'Mello; H Kaur, M Kaur, P Rani, S Gussain, A Mathews. Substitute used: F Ekka.

Umpires: V Sassall and M Hunnaball (both England).

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