Bhubaneswar: Favourites India demolished hapless Russia 10-0 in their opening match of the FIH Series Finals hockey tournament to start their 2020 Olympics qualification campaign on a rousing note here Thursday.
Dragflicker Harmanpreet Singh (32nd, 48th) and striker Akashdeep Singh (41st, 55th minutes) scored a brace each for India, while Nilkanata Sharma (13th), Simranjeet Singh (19th), Amit Rohidas (20th), Varun Kumar (33rd), Gursahibjit Singh (38th) and Vivek Sagar Prasad (45th) were the other goal-getters for the home team in the lop-sided Pool B encounter.
Even though their goal was never threatened once in the first two quarters, the Indians were slow to get off the blocks, especially against a side which is ranked 22nd in the world. The Indian forwardline looked a little complacent in the first half as it failed to finish off the moves on quite a few occasions.
But still it was one-way traffic as India controlled the proceedings from the word go. As early as the third minute, India earned back-to-back penalty corners but both went in vain with Harmanpreet striking the top upright of the Russian goal in the second effort.
It took world no. 5 India 13 minutes to break the deadlock when Nilkanta deflected in Akshdeep Singh’s push from top of the D.
In other matches, USA stunned higher-ranked South Africa 2-0 while Poland thrashed Uzbekistan 4-0.
India will play Poland in their second pool match on Friday....