New Delhi: Indian women eked out a 2-1 victory over Azerbaijan in the second Test match to take an unassailable 2-0 lead in the four-match series at Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium in New Delhi on Monday.
The hosts, ranked 13th in the world, played a fast-paced game and repeatedly attacked their opponent's citadel from the left flank in the first half. They scored through Ritu Rani (18th minute) and Saba Anjum (41th).
The 15th-ranked Azerbaijan side tried to match up with their Indian counterparts, played better than in the first match on Sunday and created lots of chances, but could manage only one goal through Gyeonga Kim (23rd).
After losing 0-3 in the first Test, Azerbaijan started off with an aggressive approach, but it was India who drew first blood in the 18th minute through a field goal by Ritu.
The visitors were quick to bring up the equaliser within a space of five minutes, with Gyeonga Kim finding the goal after being set up by Taejeong Han. Both teams went into the lemon break locked at 1-1.
The Indians were sharp and agile in the field and earned as many as eight penalty corners, with two coming in the first half, but they lacked penetration.
In the 41st minute, India earned their sixth penalty corner and skipper Asunta Lakra took the strike, with Saba Anjum deflecting it inside the post to give the home team a 2-1 lead.
In comparison to India, Azerbaijan could manage just one penalty corner in the 54th minute but squandered the chance.
India could have had more goals to their name but their performance suffered after Jaspreet Kaur hurt her back during warm-up and didn't play in the second half of the match.
The third Test between the two sides will be played on Wednesday.
India women's hockey coach CR Kumar said his girls were more agile and had played better hockey, but admitted penetration was a problem.
"We had good receiving skills and I am happy with the agility and pace of the game, but penetration is a problem. We fared poorly in converting the penalty corners," Kumar said.
"We couldn't play the same team as many couldn't recover from injuries and we replaced them with others."
"Also Jaspreet had a low back pain after she fell down during the warm-up, it also affected our performance as she didn't play the second half. But it's okay because our priority is the Olympic qualifiers," he added.
Kumar also praised Azerbaijan for playing better hockey.
"They played better hockey today. They have a very European style of play, there goalkeeper was very good and their defence was also good. They crowded the goal-mouth, so penetration became difficult and we had to try out new ways," he said.