India made a hash of their experience and home conditions as they were held 1-1 by a young inexperienced Germany before the visitors won the shoot-out 2-1 to gain a bonus point from the first match of the Women's FIH Pro League double-header here on Saturday.
It was a game of two halves as Germany held possession in the first period and India in the second. The hosts took an early lead via Navneet Kaur in the fourth minute but Germany equalised within a minute through Carlotta Sippel and the two teams remained locked 1-1 till the end of the match despite creating several chances. The two goalkeepers kept their respective teams in the hunt by pulling off some good saves. In the end, Germany had the last laugh as they won the shoot-out 2-1.
The Indians could not play their best game against the inexperienced Germans at the Kalinga Stadium.
The German team had a total of 65 senior caps to their name, with one of the youngest players, 18-year-old Jette Fleschutz, the most-capped player at 18 appearances.
By contrast, Sushila Chanu, was celebrating 200 caps for India, who should have made better use of their chances and put up a more conclusive performance. Certainly, that is what head coach Janneke Schopman will be hoping for from her players in the second match on Sunday.
India responded well after the Germans put them under early pressure and Navneet scored a goal, which followed a great build-up run by Sharmila Devi down the left side of the pitch. Her cross found Navneet who was able to guide it home to make it 1-0.
Germany came back strongly and bagged two successive penalty corners. Their efforts were eventually rewarded when Sippel was able to fire the ball home a rebound after India skipper Savita had made a save.
The remainder of the first half continued in much the same vein, with Germany having a greater share of possession and earning three penalty corners, to India's none. Neither side, however, were able to find a way past the two goalkeepers; Savita for India and Mali Wichmann, who was making her debut for Germany.
The third quarter saw India pushing their forwards ahead to a greater degree. Two penalty corners, both struck by Gurjit Kaur, brought two good saves from Wichmann. As the time counted down, there was a sense that some of the sharpness had left the German game, allowing India more time to run at the goal. However, it was Die Danas who came closest to breaking the deadlock when a shot seemed to have crossed the India goalline; eventually, it was cleared to safety.
The final quarter saw both teams digging deep to find the winning goal. The momentum looked to be with India as they responded to the encouragement from the stands. However, Germany dug deep and managed the game well, keeping a tight backline in the face of increased Indian pressure.
The teams remained 1-1 at the end of 60 minutes of regulation play.
In the shoot-out, Germany held their nerve to take the bonus point. While neither side showed great finishing in the shoot-out, credit should go to German goalkeeper Wichmann as she saved four attempts and made a great video referral to get a penalty stroke overturned on a technicality.