Asian Champions Trophy: India thump Japan 10-2 to get off to a winning start
India beat Japan 10-2 in their first game of the Men’s Asian Hockey championship. The Blueshirts demonstrated all aspects of their game with their drag flicking being particularly efficient. Indian captain Rupinder Pal Singh accounted for six of those ten goals, all of which were off penalty corners. Ramandeep Singh scored two goals while Talwinder Singh and Affan Yousuf also got their names on the scoresheet.
The Indians began the match in style barely breaking a sweat and still scoring four goals. The contest seemed lopsided, with India controlling the pace of the game, beginning slowly in the first five minutes only to up the ante in the last ten minutes of the first quarter.
India’s first goal was scored by Ramandeep in the second minute who took advantage of Japan’s weak defence and ran amok in the circle.
The second and third goals came from the captain, Rupinder Pal in the 7th and 9th minute respectively. Both were off penalty corners as they were three goals up before Japan could realise what hit them.
India kept the ball in their grasp and cashed in on incoherent Japanese defence and this constant barrage gave Ramandeep Singh enough opportunity to take the ball and shoot it from the top of the circle to score India’s fourth goal. It was the tournament’s first field goal.
India on the prowl again
The second quarter began no differently as Japan played into India’s hands. India generated two penalty corners and converted both gleefully. Between those two corners, Talwinder Singh demonstrated his skill, breaking away from India’s third along with Ramandeep.
The duo passed between each other, not giving the defence a chance to pin them down. When the opportunity was ripe, Talwinder swivelled and lobbed the ball in, scoring India’s sixth goal of the match.
With India 7-0 up only in the second quarter, Japan tried relentlessly to launch attacks on the Indian goal post. One of them succeeded when a rare bit of sloppy stick work from Sardara Singh gave the Japanese duo of Sakamoto and Tanaka a chance to steal the ball and hurtle towards India’s goal. Kenta Tanaka’s diving effort gave Japan their first goal.
Japan show spirit
A rejuvenated Japanese unit took the field in the third quarter. They seemed to have finally found some rhythm. They now passed effectively while ensuring that the ball was in India’s territory constantly. India on their part looked to be slightly off their sharp best. They gave too many open spaces for the Japanese to scurry into and ended up having to defend desperately. The men in blue received three penalty corners in the middle of this quarter but failed to convert any of them.
It was evident that Japan were defending very effectively unlike what they did the first half of the game. Now, their attacks became bolder and more frequent and India conceded a second goal. The goal itself was not an outcome of anything spectacular but one of a lot of squabbling inside India’s circle.
India put the final nails in the coffin if they hadn’t already
India got back in the final quarter, seemingly determined to take the game completely out of Japan’s reach. Rupinder Pal Singh scored again. He converted both the corners India received. The team seemed to have regained its momentum and ran the game.
Affan Yousuf scored India’s tenth goal, keeping the ball in play while it threatened to roll off the back line. He regained control, created space for himself to fire the ball in from close. With the game firmly in their grasp, India made sure that the ball remained in the Japanese half. But for the Japanese keeper’s sturdy saving, they would have scored at least two more goals.
India’s campaign has begun with an emphatic win- scoring ten goals in one hour of gripping hockey. It certainly augurs well for the upcoming games in the tournament. There were periods of play when their game was beginning to slacken up and ideally one would have expected them to concede no goal at all. These apart, all else seems to indicate that this Indian team is the one to beat in this championship.