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Hockey 9s good learning experience: Kumar

Perth: Despite losing out in the final, Indian women`s team coach C R Kumar took positives from his side`s performance in the Lanco International Super Series Hockey 9s here, and exuded confidence that the team was heading in the right direction for the Olympic qualifiers.

The Indian eves impressed all and sundry with their performance in the three-nation tournament despite losing 1-4 to Australia in the summit clash yesterday.

"I often said that Hockey 9s is a fun variety. This modified version helps to sharpen reflexes and scoring prowess. We also tested our players` readiness to adopt to different formats," Kumar said.

"However, our main focus is not this three-nation tournament, but playing against Australia. They are a top team, ranked many steps above us and playing them will help us," he said.

"Our target right now is Olympic Qualifiers which will be played on traditional format," he added.

The coach also took lightly India`s performance in the final and said his wards failed to exert pressure on Australia on Sunday.

In the summit clash, a spirited India took a 1-0 lead in the ninth minute through Soundarya Yandala before Hope Munro (10th minute), Kellie White (14th), Marnie Hudson (20th min) and Ashleigh Nelson (21st min) struck in quick succession to silence the visitors.

"Actually, we took the lead and we should have kept up the pressure as we did against Australia in the league stages," Kumar feels. "There were errors and Australia made use of them. We should have been quicker in interceptions," he observed.

Kumar feels the Test matches against Australia played in the first leg of the tour was more important for his team than Hockey 9s. "The Olympic Qualifier will be played in the normal format. We played four Test matches against a top team like Australia. This was good for us," he said. India lost the four-match Test series 1-2 to Australia.

But Kumar feels the 10-day tour has been a great learning experience for the Indian girls. "After that we are going to Buenos Aires (Argentina) to play a four-nation tournament. This way we will be well prepared for the Olympic qualifiers.

"The Hockey 9s is the first international we played as part of our Olympic preparation. This experience is vital," Kumar concluded.

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