Bhubaneswar: Favourites India thrashed Russia 10-0 in their opening game of the FIH Series Finals hockey tournament to start their 2020 Olympics qualification campaign on the best possible note, here on Thursday.
Dragflicker Harmanpreet Singh (32nd, 48th) and striker Akashdeep Singh (41st, 55th) scored a brace each while Nilkanata Sharma (13th), Simranjeet Singh (19th), Amit Rohidas (20th), Varun Kumar (33rd), Gursahibjit Singh (38th) and Vivek Sagar Prasad (45th) also got on the scoresheet for the home team in a lop-sided Pool B encounter.
There was only one team playing from the first whistle, as India took the lead in the 13th minute when Nilkanta deflected in Akshdeep Singh’s push from top of the D.
India doubled their lead in the 19th minute when Simranjeet scored from a rebound after Sumit’s reverse shot was saved by the Russian goalkeeper.
A minute later, Rohidas made it 3-0 from a penalty corner.
After change of ends, the Indians started dominating the Russians even more with Harmanpreet and Varun converting two penalty corners in consecutive minutes before Gursahibjit and Akshdeep scored two field goals in the 38th and 41st minutes, respectively.
Young Prasad also got on the scoresheet before Harmanpreet sounded the board again from a penalty corner.
Akashdeep scored his second goal of the day five minutes from the final hooter to complete the rout.
India will play Poland in their second pool match on Friday.
In the other game of Pool A, Poland dominated Uzbekistan (4-0).
It was a tough start for Uzbekistan, the lowest ranked team of the tournament (FIH World Rankings:43). Indeed, Poland took the lead already in the 5th minute with a drag-flick from captain Pawel Bratkowski following a penalty corner. To add to Uzbekistan’s challenging start, they lost Karimov Ruslan through injury a few seconds later.
The second quarter was mostly dominated by the European side and Mateusz Hulboj scored the second goal for his team after a penalty corner. The second half confirmed Poland’s domination. Pawel Bratkowski added another goal to his tally in what was very much a replica of his previous goal. He was soon to be followed onto the scoresheet by his teammate Mateusz Hulboj who scored with an amazing shot from distance, millimeters under the crossbar.
Poland could not expect a better start ahead of their match against hosts India on Friday.