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Women’s Hockey: Indian juniors draw with Belarus seniors

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Baranovichi (Belarus), June 15: India's junior women's hockey team produced a strong and mature performance in a 1-1 draw with the Belarus senior women's team in their fourth game of the five-match series.

In a competitive first quarter here on Friday, it was India who were consistently on the front foot, their speed in attack and wing play troubling the Belarusians. Despite dominating much of the period, the Indian eves were unable to create clear goal scoring chances and the teams went into the break locked 0-0.

The pattern followed in the second half, but by now the Belarusians had settled down and were happy winning the loose balls and attacking on the counter. In the 23rd minute, Yuliya Mikheychyk scored the opener to give the hosts the lead. India won their first PC of the game, but missed the attempt. 

Moments later though they were gifted another chance, with the referee awarding them a stroke. Gagandeep Kaur slotted home from the spot, in the final minute of the quarter to draw them level. The teams went into halftime locked at a goal apiece.

Belarus kicked off the third quarter aggressively, winning a pair of PCs right at the start. Bichu Devi in India's goal proved to be the difference though, her smart saves from both denying Belarus the goal that would give them the lead. India hit back immediately, winning a PC soon after. 

From the PC, an infringement meant they were awarded a penalty stroke and the opportunity to take the lead. Reet missed from the spot though and the two teams went into the final break locked at one-all.

India entered the final quarter knowing that the onus was on them to find a winner. Belarus' leading the series were happy to defend and hit on the counter. India dominated possession and despite attacking constantly couldn't make clear cut inroads on the Belarus goal. The game ended in a 1-1 draw.

Belarus currently lead the five-match rubber 2-1. The Indian team will play the final match of their tour against the Belarus Development women's team on Saturday.