Ipoh (Malaysia): Young striker Mandeep Singh netted a hat-trick as India blanked minnows Oman 8-0 to start their 9th Asia Cup Hockey Championship campaign on a perfect note at the Sultan Azlan Shah Stadium here today.
The Indian team indulged in 'Goal Fest' as they scored four apiece on either side of the break.
For the winners, Mandeep (4th minute, 40th, 44th) struck thrice, while Ramandeep (17th), V R Raghunath (28th), Rupinderpal Singh (34th), Malak Singh (47th) and S K Uthappa (69th) sounded the board once.
Knowing fully well that winning the Asia Cup would guarantee a place in next year's World Cup at The Hague, Netherlands, the Indians meant business from the onset and concentrated mainly on building formations.
The Indians were expected to control the proceedings against Oman and they did exactly that as the play was mostly centred around the Oman half.
After starting on a rather casual note, the Indians soon tightened up their grip over Oman and mounted continuous raids.
In the opening half, majority of India's build ups came from the right flank with Ramandeep Singh and Malak Singh combining well.
But penalty corner conversion still seems to be a worry for India as they utilised just two out of the six that came their way in the entire duration of 70 minutes.
The Indians earned their first penalty corner as early as in the third minute but Rupinderpal's flick was saved by Oman goalkeeper Al Noufali Fahad Khamis Salmeen. But an opportunistic Mandeep scored from the resultant rebound to give India a 1-0 lead.