Asian Champions Trophy: India make it hat-trick of wins
Defending champions India crushed Japan 6-0 to remain unbeaten in the round-robin stage of the Asian Champions Trophy men’s hockey tournament here on Sunday.
Harmanpreet Singh (10th, 53rd minute) scored a brace while Dilpreet Singh (23rd), Jaramnpreet Singh (34th), Sumit (46th) and Shamsher Singh (54th) also registered their names on the scoresheet at the Maulana Bhasani Hockey Stadium.
India, who have already sealed a semi-final berth, ended the round-robin stage of the five-nation tournament at the top of the standings with 10 points, ahead of South Korea (6), Japan (5), Pakistan (2) and hosts Bangladesh (0).
India will, once again, lock horns with Japan in the semifinal on Tuesday.
This was India’s third win on the trot. Held to a draw by Korea in their lung-opener, the Manpreet Singh-led side turned things around defeating Bangladesh 9-0 while also getting the better of arch-rivals Pakistan before easily overcoming the Japanese challenge.
India completely outplayed Japan, the Asian Games gold medallists, in all departments of the game.
They earned two back-to-back penalty corners within the first six minutes of the first quarter but were unable to convert either. Soon after Japan also wasted a penalty corner as their striker fired the shot wide.
India kept attacking and received another penalty corner, this time Hardik Singh injecting the ball to perfection for Harmanpreet to flick it home and give the holders a 1-0 lead. The scoreline could have been 2-0 towards the end of the first quarter had veteran Lalit Upadhyay not missed a sitter.
Just after the five-minute mark in the second quarter, Japan were handed a penalty corner, India referred the decision but the TV umpire found no conclusive evidence to deny Japan.
In the 23rd minute, the trio of Mandeep Singh, Shilanand Lakra and Dilpreet combined well as Dilpreet doubled India’s lead. Japan began the second half on the offensive but it was India who scored their third goal, courtesy Jaramanpreet’s clean strike.
A crucial penalty corner coming their way in the 36th minute, Japan looked to capitalise on the chance but India keeper Suraj Karkera, who shone in the absence of regular custodian P Sreejesh, pulled off a superb save to deny them.
India inflicted further pain on Japan as Sumit scored in the first minute of the final quarter. Harmanpreet then made it 5-0 by smashing the ball in the top right corner of the goalpost for his second of the match. Two minutes later juniors Shamsher and Shilanand combined beautifully as the former scored India’s sixth goal.