In­dia start with a bang, thrash Ja­pan 5-1

The Northlines - - SPORTS -

Dhaka:

Ti­tle favourites In­dia pro­duced an impressive per­for­mance to out­class Ja­pan 5-1 in their open­ing match at the 10th edi­tion of the men’s Asia Cup hockey tour­na­ment here to­day. In their first tour­na­ment un­der coach Mar­i­jne Sjo­erd, In­dia meant busi­ness and found the net in each quar­ter to stream­roll their less-fan­cied but tricky op­po­nents. SV Su­nil (3rd minute), Lalit Upadhyay (22nd), Ra­man­deep Singh (33rd) and Har­man­preet Singh (35th and 48th) were on tar­get for In­dia. Ja­pan’s lone goal was scored by Kenji Ki­tazato’s in the 4th minute. World No. 6 In­dia did not look rusty un­der their new coach, who took charge of the team just last month fol­low­ing the sud­den sack­ing of Roe­lant Olt­mans. In­dia were quick to get off the blocks when Su­nil, af­ter a fine one-two with Akashdeep Singh, pushed the ball into the open goal. But In­dia’s joy was short­lived as Ja­pan struck in the next minute through Ki­tazatos field strike. In­dia com­pletely dom­i­nated the pro­ceed­ings and ex­ploited ev­ery sin­gle bit of space given by the Ja­panese. They utilised both the wings to per­fec­tion to set up their at­tacks.

In­dia got the first of their four penalty cor­ners in the 21st minute but Har­man­preet’s flick didn’t have enough power to trou­ble the Ja­panese ci­tadel. An inch-per­fect scoop from Har­man­preet from the half­way mark found Upadhyay in­side the cir­cle and the striker slot­ted home with a re­verse shot af­ter bril­liantly con­trol­ling the ball.

Two min­utes into the sec­ond half, In­dia ex­tended their lead through Ra­man­deep, who scored a gem with a thun­der­ing shot from a tight an­gle af­ter be­ing set up by Su­nil.

Next it was Har­man­preet’s turn to reg­is­ter his name in the score­sheet and the dragflicker did so by con­vert­ing In­dia’s sec­ond penalty cor­ner in the 40th minute. Min­utes later, Akashdeep missed a chance. Su­nil found an un­marked Akashdeep in­side the cir­cle but his de­flec­tion went straight into the pads of the Ja­panese goal­keeper.

But soon Har­man­preet made the score­line 5-1, scor­ing with a fine vari­a­tion from In­dia’s third penalty cor­ner.

In­dia couldn’t have asked for a bet­ter start to the tour­na­ment as they show­cased near per­fect hockey, which was full of short one-two passes, quick turnovers and vari­a­tions. In­dia earned two more penalty cor­ners in the fi­nal min­utes but wasted both. Ja­pan too se­cured two scor­ing chances in the dy­ing min­utes in the form of penalty cor­ners but the In­dian de­fence held the fort. In the sec­ond match, Pak­istan thrashed hosts Bangladesh 7-0. In­dia will next play Bangladesh in their next Pool A match on Fri­day.

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