Indian hockey teams begin with contrasting wins
While the women’s side showed great composure to edge past hosts Japan 2-1, the men’s team was in a goal-scoring mood as they pumped in six against Malaysia to begin their campaign with a convincing 6-0 win.
Forwards Mandeep Singh (33rd minute, 46th minute) and Gursahibjit Singh (18th minute, 56th minute) scored a brace each, Gurinder Singh (8th minute) and SV Sunil (60th minute) helped complete the rout.
Having named a young squad for the competition, head coach Graham Reid was eager to see how his wards approached the game and made use of the opportunity.
The youngsters ensured that the coach didn’t regret his decision as they began the game on the front foot, playing a high line and probing the Malaysian defence time and again.
While Mandeep was in good nick, dragging the defence out and helping create space in the striking circle, Sunil proved to be a nuisance for the backline with his speed and smart movements.
Mandeep also tested the Malaysian goalkeeper Kumar Subramaniam twice before India could have a breakthrough.
Found on the other end of a penalty corner routine, Gurinder made no mistake and score his first goal of the match to give his side the lead.
Karkera stands tall
Though the Indians continued to exert pressure, they had to wait until the second quarter before finding a second. This time it was Gursahibjit and Gurjant who combined well to beat the defence and make it 2-0 in India’s favour.
That goal turned out to be a wake-up call for the Malaysians as they kept good control of the ball and built their attacks at their will.
Though India’s shot-stopper Suraj Karkera was called into action a few times in the quarter, the Mumbai player ensured that nothing went past him as India went into the half-time break with a two-goal cushion.
Back after the break, the Indians continued from where they had left and Mandeep made sure the intent was evident in the scoreline too. The Punjab player, who was found on the other end of a Jaskaran Singh pass after some sleek stick work, made no mistake to slot it past the ’keeper.
With the Malaysians running out of ideas, India imposed themselves on the game and scored three more to lay down the marker for the teams to follow.
Gurjit to the rescue
Earlier in the day, the women’s side had to rely heavily on their only penalty corner specialist, Gurjit Kaur, to bail them out against a difficult-looking Japanese side.
Having taken the lead from a short corner conversion in the 16th minute, the Indians seemed a little switched off allowing Japan to come back into the game through a swift counter-attack.
That didn’t affect the Indians much as they continued their attacking game and eked out another short corner in the second half which was duly converted by Gurjit.
The men's team will take on New Zealand on Sunday in their next encounter while the women's side will be up against Australia in their next tie on the same day.