India beat China 2-1 in a sensational final encounter that showcased the Indian eves’ fighting spirit and determination to win the 4th Asian Champions Trophy. This is the first time the Indian women's team have won the Asian Champions Trophy after they had narrowly lost the final to Japan in 2013.
Having learnt from their group stage encounter, India refused to let China take early control of the ball, closing them down high up the pitch, often intercepting their passes and constantly putting pressure by hunting in packs. When in possession, the Indian eves held their nerve, relentless and in control, they passed the ball around neatly and quickly to penetrate China's circle.
This slightly different approach to their game compared to yesterday helped them earn India’s first PC of the game in the 13th minute. An innovative set-piece saw Deep Grace Ekka perfectly send the ball past the Chinese keeper to take 1-0 lead.
Going into the second quarter, India kept up the pressure by playing disciplined hockey, keeping their calm only to deny the Chinese a chance to equalize. However, the third quarter saw China’s Mengling Zhong penetrate the Indian circle to score a quick field goal. But the Indian eves were unrelenting and were playing the kind of hockey that had China on the backfoot. China managed to earn their first PC of the match in the third quarter but failed to convert sending the ball way off the baseline.
Though fortunes changes hands by the minute, neither team dropped the intensity going into the fourth quarter. Both teams playing attacking hockey and equaling pushing each other’s limit. For India, it was Rani who was acting like a lynchpin, attempting to penetrate the Chinese D to earn a PC and she found a chance with just minutes left before the final hooter went off.
It was a do-or-die situation for India and it was their best chance to score. Deepika Thakur, the highest goal scorer of the tournament took the onus on to herself to convert a sensational goal with just 30 seconds to go for the final hooter, sending the Indian supports into bursts of cheers.
On this memorable occasion, Hockey India today also announced a cash prize of Rs 2.00 Lakhs the each for the players and the Chief Coach Neil Hawgood. Besides this Hockey India also announced Rs 1.00 Lakh for the other support staff of the team. Prize of Rs 1.00 Lakh was announced for Deepika Thakur – the Highest Scorer of the Tournament.