JOHANNESBURG, July 9: Brilliant goalkeeping by Savita saw India hold hosts South Africa 0-0 in their first match of the Women�s Hockey World League Semi-Final here.
India made a strong start with a structured game, a better ball possession in the first 15 minutes.
There were also some crucial circle penetration made in the first quarter that fetched them a PC in the 12th minute of the match. However, a fiercely struck flick by India�s dragflicker Gurjit Kaur was well-defended by South Africa�s first runner to deny India an early lead.
With the second quarter starting with the score reading 0-0, South Africa bounced back into the game with an improvised attack. They made two brilliant attempts on goal.
First it was Tarryn Glasby who beat Indian defenders in the circle to take a shot on goal, but an alert Savita was brilliant in her effort to keep South Africa away from scoring.
Sulette Damons� shot on goal was perhaps the best chance South Africa had to score but her powerfully struck shot was slightly off the mark even as Savita made a diving effort to defend. Both teams went into half-time in a stalemate.
There was plenty of action in the third quarter with hosts South Africa, backed by a roaring home crowd, and the support paid off when the home team scored through a field goal by Stephanie Baxter.
However, a clever call for video referral by India denied South Africa the goal as it came off the back of the stick.
India continued to keep the pressure on the hosts with a strong defence which denied them from making successful forays into the striking circle.
The final quarter witnessed both teams building up frantic pace, as both India and South Africa pushed for a goal. India won their second PC in the 47th minute but striker Rani�s attempt at scoring a PC was denied by South Africa�s first runner who deflected the ball rather perfectly.
The following minutes saw South African forwards keep India�s Savita busy at the post as they made tactical variations to take shot on goal. But Savita was exceptional to deny them a goal.
South Africa made eight unsuccessful attempts on goal with 34 circle penetrations while India had 15 circle penetrations and three shots on goal. Though South Africa won their only PC of the game in the dying minutes, Tarryn Glasby was kept away from converting the goal. India did well to hold the hosts to a 0-0 draw and share the points.
India will take on USA tomorrow. � PTI