The Indian women's hockey team won the bronze medal at the Commonwealth Games after they beat Gold Coast 2018 champions New Zealand 2-1 in the penalty shootout at the University of Birmingham Hockey and Squash Centre on Sunday.
This is the Indian women's hockey team's third medal at the CWG and the first in 16 years. India won gold at Manchester 2002 and a silver at Melbourne 2006.
World No. 9 India took the lead of the match in regulation time with a goal from Salima Tete (29’) but New Zealand, ranked eighth, equalised with just 18 seconds left on the clock with Olivia Merry (60’).
India held their nerves and aced the penalty shootout. Sonika Tandi and Navneet Kaur scored two goals, while captain Savita Punia saved a couple to guide India to clinch the bronze medal. Megan Hull scored for the Kiwis in the shootout.
“I feel great," said India captain Savita Punia. "This match was very tough for us and both teams made a good effort. We knew it wouldn't be easy, so before we came, we worked every minute and every second. I am so proud. We fought as a team."
In the match, both teams were goalless in the first quarter despite intense passing and circle penetration. New Zealand were a player down for two minutes in the field of play when Katie Doar received a green card for a rough tackle.
Sangita Kumari hoodwinked the Kiwi defence for a goal attempt but could not finish the move. Salima Tete's powerful reverse backhand brought the first goal for India in the 30th minute. She smashed the ball from an angle to find the net as India surged ahead at the end of the second quarter.
India missed a few chances that kept them on edge throughout the match. Jyoti and Sangita did not find the positions to have a clear shot at goal on multiple occasions. Neha had a chance to double India's lead in the third quarter. She found an opening and cleverly passed the ball in front of the goal, challenging the New Zealand goalkeeper Brooke Roberts, but there was no striker to tap the ball into the net.
Navneet Kaur had a chance to shoot at point-blank range in the fourth quarter, but the goalie rushed forward to unsettle the striker and block her angle.
Roberts kept New Zealand on the hunt by saving a penalty corner in the dying minutes that turned the tables. New Zealand’s Olivia Merry found the equaliser at the stroke of the referee’s final whistle through a penalty as Navneet committed a foul stretching the match to the shootout.
New Zealand, who won four medals in the last six editions of the Commonwealth Games, will return home empty-handed from Birmingham. Along with their gold medal in 2018, the Kiwis won a silver at New Delhi 2010 and a bronze each at Kuala Lumpur 1998 and Glasgow 2014 editions of the CWG.