Lalit Upadhyay, Varun Kumar and Mandeep Singh slammed a hat-trick each as India started their men’s hockey campaign at the Asian Games with a 16-0 rout of lowly-ranked Uzbekistan here on Sunday.
Ranked third in the world, India began the match as clear favourites against the world No. 66 Uzbeks and expectedly dominated the proceedings from start to finish in the Pool A match.
Lalit (7th, 24th, 37th, 53rd) and Varun (12th, 36th, 50th, 52nd) fired in four goals each, while Mandeep (18th, 27th, 28th minutes) scored thrice.
Abhishek (17th), Amit Rohidas (38th), Sukhjeet (42nd), Shamsher Singh (43rd) and Sanjay (57th) were the other goal scorers as India toyed with the Uzbek defence all through the match.
India skipper Harmanpreet Singh did not play the match as he was rested after donning the responsibility of being the joint flag-bearer along with Olympic medallist boxer Lovlina Borgohain during the opening ceremony of the Games on Saturday.
It was a complete domination by the Indians who took seven minutes to break the deadlock, but once they did, it was complete mayhem for Uzbekistan.
It was raining penalty corners for India as they secured as many as 14 in the entire 60 minutes but converted just five, which should be a cause for concern for chief coach Craig Fulton.
But what is heartening is the display of the forwards as they combined well with the midfield to pump in 10 goals. One goal came from a penalty stroke in the 36th minute.
India’s Jarmanpreet Singh said they want to win the Hockey competition at the Asian Games as it guarantees an Olympic berth. “It was a good match for us. We will go match by match... Our team goal is to win this competition because then we can directly qualify for the Olympics,” he said after the game.
India will play Singapore in their next pool match on Tuesday.
With inputs from PTI