Ipoh: Striker Mandeep Singh netted a hat-trick as India blanked Oman 8-0 to start their 9th Asia Cup Hockey Championship campaign at the Sultan Azlan Shah Stadium, here, on Saturday.
India scored four goals in each half of the match.
Apart from Mandeep, who struck in the 4th, 40th and 44th minutes, Ramandeep (17th), VR Raghunath (28th), Rupinderpal Singh (34th), Malak Singh (47th) and SK Uthappa (69th) scored for the winners.
In other matches, Pakistan thrashed Japan 7-0, while hosts Malaysia demolished debutant Chinese Taipei 10-2.
Knowing fully well that winning the Asia Cup would guarantee a place in next year’s World Cup at Hague, the Netherlands, the Indians meant business from the onset and concentrated mainly on building formations.
In the opening half, most of India’s build-ups came from the right flank with Ramandeep Singh and Malak Singh combining well.
But penalty corner conversion still seems to be a worry for India as they utilised just two of the six that came their way in the match.
India earned their first penalty corner as early as in the third minute but Rupinderpal’s flick was saved by Oman goalkeeper Al Noufali Fahad Khamis Salmeen. Mandeep scored from the resultant rebound to give India a 1-0 lead.
India doubled their lead in the 17th minute through an unmarked Ramandeep who scored after receiving a Malak assist from the right flank.
India earned a penalty in the 28th minute when Nithin Thimmaiah was brought down inside the Oman circle and VR Raghunath made no mistake from the spot to give India a 3-0 lead.
India could have scored another in the next minute but Rupinder’s reverse hit from inside the ‘D’ was saved by the Oman custodian. Just a minute after the breather, India increased their lead through Rupinderpal who converted the team’s fifth penalty corner with a high flick that crashed on to the top right of the Oman goal.
Four minutes later, Mandeep scored his second goal of the day with a perfect reverse flick after being fed by a cross from Chinglensana Singh.
Mandeep was again in the thick of things as four minutes later he scored his third goal of the day after receiving a pass from Ramandeep.