Birmingham: India women’s hockey team captain Savita Punia has asked her players to guard against England’s home advantage when the sides clash in their Pool A game at the Commonwealth Games here on Tuesday.
After a strong showing against Ghana (5-0), India swatted aside the challenge from Wales 3-1 and will be looking forward to their tough encounter against the hosts.
The English women too were equally menacing against Ghana winning the opener 12-0, before defeating Canada 1-0 in the second game. The hosts will go into the match against India as Pool A leaders, as they have a better goal difference.
Savita conceded England have the home advantage but India will not be overawed.
“England are a good team and they have the home advantage as well in Birmingham. It will be a challenging match for us, but we have also been in good form after our first two wins,” said Savita.
At the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, the two sides were in Pool A and finished as the top two sides, with India taking the second spot due to goal difference. India defeated England (2-1) in the Pool A game but were handed a 6-0 defeat in the bronze-medal playoff.
More recently, at the FIH Women’s World Cup 2022, the Janneke Schopman-coached India held England to a 1-1 draw in their Pool B contest.
“We have played England a few times in the recent past, so both teams know each other quite well. They have won a couple of big matches against us as well, so they’re a strong team, but we have done our homework and it will be all about getting the basics right on the day. It is a crucial game in the competition and we are focused on our target,” Savita said on Monday.
India and England have a storied rivalry, with one of the most memorable games being played last year at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. India, led by Rani Rampal, played the tournament of their lives as they punched well above their weight, finishing fourth. Unfortunately, though, Great Britain had India’s number in Tokyo.
“We are not looking too much into the past and want to put our best foot forward in the game on Tuesday. It’s one game at a time for us. We have been playing an attacking style of hockey in recent years, and we would look to continue in the same fashion against England as well,” Savita added.