Gurjit Kaur's last minute effort saw Indian women beat Great Britain 2-1 in a thrilling opening encounter of the five-match series. It was a brilliant come-from-behind victory for India after trailing 0-1 as goals from Sharmila Devi and Gurjit sealed the issue for the visiting side. In the first quarter, neither team managed to break the deadlock, despite sporadic attacks from both teams. In the second quarter, India took control of the game and won a couple of penalty corners in the first few minutes forcing smart saves from custodian Maddie Hinch.
Soon enough, it was Great Britain's turn but in India's goalkeeper Savita Punia pulled off a smart save to deny the home team as it was goalless at half-time. Great Britain broke through first in the final quarter, with Emily Defrond scoring in the 46th minute to give her team the much-needed lead. Despite trailing, India mounted pressure and soon reaped the dividends with Sharmila restoring parity.
The match looked like ending in a draw but with 48 seconds left, India won a short corner and Gurjit successfully converted it. The second match of the series will be played on Sunday.
Rani Rampal, the skipper has goalkeepeer Savita as her deputy. Savita and Rajani Etimarpu retained their places in the side following the team's triumph in the Olympic Test Event in Japan recently. Defenders Deep Grace Ekka, Gurjit Kaur, Reena Khokhar and Salima Tete have also been named in the squad. The midfield sees the return of the experienced Namita Toppo after a lengthy spell on the sidelines due to injury, Hockey India said in a statement. India's midfield will also consist of other experienced players in Sushila Chanu Pukhrambam, Nikki Pradhan, Monika, Neha Goyal and Lilima Minz.
The forward-line features Rani, Vandana Katariya, Navneet Kaur, Lalremsiami, Navjot Kaur and youngster Sharmila Devi who made her international debut during the Olympic Test Event in Tokyo. "The balance and mixture of players in our team remains the same from previous tournaments as go into an important phase in our objective of qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics 2020," Chief Coach Sjoerd Marijne said about the team selected for the event.
"It is good to have Namita Toppo back in the squad for the first time since Asian Games 2018...We still have ten days of training before we leave for the matches in England. "I am sure these matches will serve as good preparation for our vital FIH Hockey Olympic Qualifiers in Odisha against USA in November 2019," he added. The Dutchman also said the tour will help in preparing the team to face USA in the FIH Hockey Olympic Qualifiers in Odisha.