Tauranga: Rupinder Pal Singh and debutant Vivek Sagar Prasad struck a brace each as the Indian men's hockey team thrashed Japan 6-0 in its opening match of the double-leg Four Nations Invitational Tournament in Tauranga on Wednesday.
The Indian U-19 cricket team, who are currently in the Oceania continent for the 2018 ICC U-19 World Cup along with coach Rahul Dravid also were present at the stadium to watch Sjoerd Marijne's men.
Apart from Rupinder (7') and Vivek (12', 28'), Dilpreet Singh (35', 45') and Harmanpreet Singh (41') also scored in India's win.
The team got off to a dominant start, controlling the ball rather swiftly, passing around neatly and quickly to penetrate the Japanese circle.
India won their first penalty corner of the game in the seventh minute and it was young gun Harmanpreet Singh, who stepped up to drag flick. His attempt though was blocked but since the obstruction came off his body, India were awarded a penalty stroke.
Experienced drag-flicker Rupinder hardly broke a sweat in converting a stunning goal to fetch India a 1-0 early lead. India's second goal came in the 12th minute when debutant Vivek was quick to pick up a rebound and fiercely strike the ball past the Japanese goal keeper earning India a 2-0 lead.
The second quarter saw India defend their lead as they were unrelenting in creating pressure on Japan, pressing them high up constantly, rarely giving them an opportunity to enter India's D.
Meanwhile, Vivek Prasad found another excellent opportunity in the 28th minute to score, as the Indian attackers broke into the Japanese defence. Vivek was swift to receive an assist in the circle and put the ball in the goal within no time. The teams went into the half time break with India having a comfortable 3-0 lead.
In the 35th minute, a brilliant run-in from Mandeep Singh, who found Dilpreet in the circle, created a goal scoring opportunity for India. Though Dilpreet's first attempt was padded away by the Japan keeper, he was quick to pick it up again and put into the nets fetching India's fourth goal.
Japan earned their first penalty corner of the match in the 40th minute, but couldn't find success. In the following minute a foot foul by a Japanese defender won India their second PC which was brilliantly executed by Harmanpreet Singh as India led 5-0.
An outstanding bit of play in the circle, opened up a chance for Dilpreet Singh to shoot from the top of the circle. His attempt was right on spot taking India's lead to a formidable 6-0 in the 45th minute. The final quarter saw India defend well, giving no room for Japan to score a consolation goal. India will take on Belgium in their second match on Thursday.