NEW DELHI: India’s skipper Harmanpreet Singh and Varun Kumar each netted two goals, propelling the team to a dominant 7-2 victory against China in the opening match of their Asian Champions Trophy hockey campaign at the Mayor Radhakrishnan Hockey Stadium in Chennai on Thursday.

The Indian side wasted no time in taking control, with Harmanpreet showcasing his penalty corner expertise to score twice in the 5th and 8th minutes. Varun Kumar followed suit, adding two more penalty corner goals in the 19th and 30th minutes, solidifying India’s lead.
Not content with just penalty corners, India exhibited their attacking prowess in open play, with Sukhjeet Singh (15th), Akashdeep Singh (16th), and Mandeep Singh (40th) brilliantly finding the back of the net.

While China managed to respond with goals from Wenhui E (18th) and Jiesheng Gao (25th), they were outclassed by India’s relentless attacking strategy and solid defense.
The Men in Blue were off to a resounding start in the opening quarter, as it took them just five minutes into the contest to earn a penalty corner, and skipper Harmanpreet made no mistake in successfully converting it.
It did not too long for India to double the lead.
Three minutes later, it was another penalty corner and it yielded the same result through the same man, Harmanpreet.
Down by a couple of goals early into the tie, the Chinese players struggled to penetrate the Indian defence, as most of the action was taking place in the Chinese half.
At the stroke of the first quarter stoppage, India received another penalty corner. Varun’s initial flick was saved by the Chinese defence but Sukhjeet scored from the rebound.
With a 3-0 lead, India started the second quarter on on a confident note.
Just two minutes into the quarter, Akshdeep scored from an assist from Manpreet Singh as India went 4-0 up.
However, just a minute later, China broke free, with Varun failing to tackle an ariel ball, as Wenhui sent it past Indian goalkeeper Krishan Bahadur Pathak.
But the Chinese goal hardly had any impact as a minute later, Varun found the back of the net from a set piece.
It was not until the 25th minute that China received their first penalty corner.
While the initial one was unsuccessful, the resulting corner led to Gao firing it past Pathak.
At the stroke of half-time, it was yet another penalty corner for India, with Varun shooting it into the top-right corner, as the hosts moved into the break with a 6-2 advantage.
After the change of ends, things did not change for China.
Although China tried to up the ante, they gave away a couple of corners again, and the one in the 40th minute saw Amit Rohidas’s wide flick being angled in by Mandeep Singh for India’s seventh goal.
While the third quarter was a relatively quiet one, the final quarter was even quieter, as despite the two sides earning a few penalty corners, none could put the ball into the net.
India will play Japan next on Friday.
(With PTI Inputs)

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