The Indian men's hockey team continued their dominant run in the Asian Games with a 16 -1 rout of Singapore in the second of their Pool A games in Hangzhou on Tuesday, September 26.
Captain Harmanpreet Singh, who was rested for India's opener against Uzbekistan, scored four stunning PC goals while Varun Kumar scored a brace even as the Men in Blue earned 22 short corners.
Zaki Zulkarnain beat goalkeeper Krishan Pathak in the fourth quarter to give Singapore a lone consolation goal.
The Indian strikers were synced in style as Mandeep Singh, Gurjant Singh, Abhishek, and Lalit Upadhyay toyed with the Singapore defense providing glimpses of some brilliant short passing in the attacking circle.
Mandeep Singh scored one from a near-impossible angle to earn a well-deserved hattrick after having played the role of a poacher with aplomb.
Two brilliant back-to-back goals from Abhishek ensured that the Indians were on track for a big win, while former skipper Manpreet Singh got onto the scoresheet as well after deflecting a Harmanpreet drag-flick home.
Malaysia and South Korea - India's potential semifinal opponents at the Hangzhou Asian Games
While there is some distance to cover for the Indians in order to ensure a berth in the semifinals of the men's hockey event, given their rankings and recent history, a place in the knockout round is definitely on the cards.
The Indians have had the upper hand against defending champions Japan for close to a decade now and handed the hosts an 8-0 hammering in the pool stages before Seigfried Aikman's team went on to win gold in Jakarta 2018.
In the pre-Olympic tournaments as well, the Indians remain undefeated against the Asian Games champions, who are also in Pool A in Hangzhou. A nervy 1-1 draw in the preliminary stages was followed by a comprehensive 5-0 rout in the semifinals of the recent Asian Champions Trophy in Chennai.
Pakistan, also drawn in Pool A, has failed to trouble the Indians in the recent past. A 2-2 draw in the pool stages of the 2018 Commonwealth Games was the best result the Men in Green have had against India following a 1-7 thrashing in the Hockey World League in England back in 2017.
Meanwhile, the Malaysians, who are currently second in Pool B with three points and a goal difference of +9, stretched Craig Fulton's team in the final of the Asian Champions Trophy.
The Indians, who lost to Malaysia in the semifinals of the 2010 Asian Games and yet again in the semifinals in 2018, have a history of being hassled by the Tigers on the big stage.
South Korea, who head Pool B, have begun with a 10-0 drubbing of Indonesia in the opening game of the Hangzhou Asian Games. The speedy Koreans lost to Japan in a pulsating final of the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta but have not been in great form since.