After a fairytale run to the Rio Games following a gap of 36 years, an upbeat Indian women's hockey team produced a spirited performance against Japan to steal a 2-2 draw in the Group B opener on 7 August.
The Indian team got off to an inspiring start with two close chances in the first quarter through Preeti Dubey and Poonam Rani who failed to find the target. But, Japan quickly took control of the proceedings with aggressive moves and shrewd tactics.
Emi Nishikori provided Japan an early lead after finding the back of the net through a penalty corner in the dying seconds of the first quarter. Japan then doubled their lead with less than three minutes to go in the second quarter through Mie Nakashima.
India looked out of sorts going into the halftime, but the women's team staged a brilliant comeback in the third quarter with brilliant goals from Rani Rampal and Lilima Minz. The first goal was converted by Rani via a penalty corner and five minutes later, Lilima slapped the ball into the net.
With the scores leveled, both the teams pushed their players forward to find the elusive goal. But, neither side could score a winner as the match ended 2-2.
Ranked 13th in the world, the Indian team will be satisfied to share points with their opponents who are three spots above them at 10th position.
The Indian women's team will now lock horns with Great Britain on 9 August.