Rani’s brace fires India to 3-1 triumph over Poland  

, June 24 (IANS) Riding on Rani Rampal’s brace, India boosted their chances of reaching the quarter-finals from pool B in the women’s Hockey World League (HWL) Semi-Final as they edged past Poland 3-1 at the Brasschaat Municipal Park here on Wednesday.

Rani (20th, 29th minute), Vandana Katariya (53rd) scored for world No.13 India, who earlier lost to Belgium and New Zealand. World No.23 Poland got their sole goal from Magdalena Zagajska (50th).

At the start, both the teams began positively but it were the Indian girls who got more opportunities. They attacked the rival citadel numerously and in the 13th minute they were rewarded with a penalty corner that was wasted by Lilima Minz.

As soon as the second half started, the Indians showed their intent, earning back-to-back penalty corners twice in the 16th minute. However, Rani failed to make it count on both occasions.

Poland, too, responded quickly and celebrated, only to be denied by the video umpire in the 18th minute. Natalia Wisniewska had the ball kissed her inside knee before she passed it to Weronika Wessolowska, who tapped the ball in. But India asked for a video referral and it went their way.

In reply to Poland’s attack, India upped the ante and Lilima earned a penalty corner and Rani, making amends for the earlier misses, drilled the ball into the net to make it 1-0 for India.

In the 29th minute, skipper Ritu Rani led a sole quick counterattack and passed it to Rani in front of the goal. Rani, 20, moved around the goalkeeper and dodged her to lift the ball into the goal to complete her brace.

After a tense third quarter, Poland reduced the deficit as Magdalena breached the Indian defence and guided the ball home after receiving it from Natalia in front of the goal in the 50th minute.

Three minutes later, a diving Vandana guided a slightly wide grounder from Rani to make it 3-1 — the scoreline that remained till the end despite Poland pushing hard.

In their final pool B clash, Mathias Ahrens-coached India will face world No.2 Australia on Saturday.

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