India women upset Australia to enter first-ever Olympic semifinals

Gurjit Kaur celebrates her goal against Australia.

Tokyo: Just a day after the Indian men’s hockey team made it to the Olympic semifinals after 49 years in Tokyo, the women created history too on Monday by beating the mighty Australians 1-0 at the Oi Hockey Stadium.

Competing in their only third Olympics, the Indian women showed grit and determination to keep a billion dreams alive at the world’s grandest stage. This is also the first time in history where both the Indian hockey teams have made it to the Olympics semifinals.

Finishing at lowly 12th at the 2016 Rio Olympics, this Indian team under Dutch coach Sjoerd Marijne made a brilliant comeback in the last five years to pull off an upset on Monday. Gurjit Kaur scored the all-important goal on Monday.

Having lost three consecutive matches at the group stage, nobody gave India a chance. But with a win against Ireland and South Africa in their last two encounters in the group, and Ireland losing to Great Britain, the Rani Rampal-led side got the energy to showcase what they are capable of at the biggest stage.

For Australia, although they were dominant for the majority of the game, they lacked the final punch. The Women in Yellow got several opportunities including three back-to-back PCs in the final quarter but Savita Punia under the sticks ensured there were no such hiccups.

Surely, Savita can be nicknamed as ‘The Wall’ of Indian women’s hockey — a tag she can share with men’s custodian PR Sreejesh. India will face Argentina next for a place in the final.