Australia vs India (Women’s Hockey CWG 2022 Semi-Final): Preview and Prediction￼
Savita Punia and co. managed to claw their way back into the race and ultimately qualify for the knockouts after having suffered a 3-1 defeat against hosts England. Janneke Schopman’s team displayed their resilience under pressure by getting the better of Canada in a must-win game, which put them within striking distance of a podium finish at the Games.
Australia, on the other hand, is the team to beat in this competition having won each of their matches in the 2022 games till now. They are definitely the team to beat in the competition and are the strongest contenders to win the gold medal. Australia has never failed to win a medal in the women’s competition but, after finishing second in front of their home crowd in the 2018 edition, this time the ambition has to be gold.
What have they done so far in the Games?
The Indian women, like their male counterparts, returned empty-handed from the previous edition of the Games in Gold Coast, finishing fourth after being routed 0-6 by England in the bronze medal play-off match.
The Indians were troubled going into the latest Games by their disappointing performance in the recently concluded World Cup in Spain and the Netherlands, where the Savita Punia-led side finished ninth.
Now, the Janneke Schopman-coached side will be desperate to show that it is far better than its recent results suggest. They’d be eager to show that last year’s historic fourth-place finish in Tokyo wasn’t a fluke.
The Indian women’s team would also like to end their 16-year medal drought in the Games, India’s last medal in the CWG was a silver in 2006 in Melbourne. The Indian women’s only other medal in the Games since hockey’s inception in 1998 was a gold medal in the 2002 edition in Manchester.
Australia, on the other hand, will be looking to improve on their silver medal performance from the previous games. Interestingly, the Kangaroos have won at least one medal at each of the previous six Games. They won a bronze medal in the 2002 games, as well as silver medals in the 2018 Games held on the Gold Coast. They are, in fact, the only team to have won four Gold medals in these Games, and they are the best-placed team in both categories – when medal positions and medal count are taken into account.
Head to Head Record
India and Australia have faced each other five times in the Commonwealth games with the latter winning each of those encounters comfortably. In their last encounter in the games, Australia just got the better of India 1-0 in the second semi-final of the 2018 Gold Coast Games.
This will be in fact the two team’s first encounter against each other this year after the Women in Blue defeated Australia 1-0 in Tokyo 2020 Olympics quarter-finals to make it to their first semi-final appearances in the games.
Jane Claxton (Australia): After bursting onto the national hockey scene in 2013, Jane-Anne ‘Jane’ Claxton made her Olympic debut in Rio in the midfield for the women’s hockey side. Claxton won gold at the 2013 Australian Youth Olympic Festival with a 2-1 victory over China. The same year she was awarded the South Australian Sports Institute Junior Female Athlete of the Year honor.
She secured herself as a regular in the Australian side in 2013 when she helped win gold at the Oceania Cup and the World League Semi-Final, as well as silver in with World League Final. In 2014 she helped Australia claim gold at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games and silver at the Netherlands World Cup.
She made it Commonwealth double gold at the Gold Coast in April 2018. Jane was also part of the silver medal winning Hockeyroos team at FIH’s 2019 Pro League, losing to The Netherlands on penalties after a 2-2 draw. The 29-year-old is competing in her third Commonwealth Games in Birmingham 2022 with the Hockeyroos.
Gurjit Kaur (India): The only ‘specialist’ women’s drag-flicker in India, Gurjit Kaur has already proved her prowess at the Olympics. She didn’t play a few matches in the FIH Pro League due to injury but is back in full form again and is already India’s joint highest goal scorer in the competition along with Vandana Katariya.
The equation is clear: If Gurjit scores, India wins, and if she fails, Savita Punia & Co. will have an uphill task to upset other teams. India recently stunned Olympic silver-medalists Argentina in the FIH Pro League, where Gurjit starred with a brace.
Apart from scoring goals, Gurjit will also team up with experienced campaigner and vice-captain, Deep Grace Ekka, in the backline to provide the much-needed balance to the Indian team.
The FIH Women’s ‘Player of the Year’ 2020-21, Gurjit needs to repeat her Olympic performance to help the Indian team shine on a global stage.
Australia squad: Jane Claxton (C), Brooke Peris, Jocelyn Bartram, Stephanie Kershaw, Kaitlin Nobbs, Renee Taylor, Claire Colwill, Madison Fitzpatrick, Greta Hayes, Amy Lawton, Rosie Malone, Aleisha Power, Courtney Schonell, Karri Somerville, Penny Squibb, Shanea Tonkin, Mariah Williams, Georgia Wilson
India squad: Savita Punia (C), Rajani Etimarpu, Deep Grace Ekka, Gurjit Kaur, Nikki Pradhan, Udita, Nisha, Sushila Chanu Pukhrambam, Monika, Neha, Jyoti, Navjot Kaur, Salima Tete, Vandana Katariya, Lalremsiami, Navneet Kaur, Sharmila Devi, Sangita Kumari
The Indians will be looking to unsettle the Aussies with a spate of early attacks, and a quick goal will be crucial if the Indians are to make a match of it.
In Birmingham, the Hockeyroos have been unable to win any matches by huge margins against strong opponents thus far, and there could be a strong possibility of a shootout coming into play.
Two shootout losses for the Aussies in the 2020 Pro League indicate a semblance of weakness in the tie-breakers. If Savita Punia can rise to the occasion, the Indians will fancy their chances of a shootout win.