Chennai: The Indian men’s hockey team made a grand start to their campaign at the Asian Champions Trophy Chennai 2023 with an astounding 7-2 win against China at the Mayor Radhakrishnan Hockey Stadium, here on Thursday.
It was raining goals for India as Harmanpreet Singh (5′, 8′), Varun Kumar (19′, 30′), Sukhjeet Singh (15′), Akashdeep Singh (16′) entered their name on the scoreboard while charismatic forward Mandeep Singh (40′) achieved a personal milestone as he scored his 100th international goal.
Playing in front of a boisterous home crowd, India got off to a roaring start in the first quarter with assertive attack demolishing the Chinese defence. Having recently etched his name as one of highest goal scorers in FIH Pro League history, Harmanpreet Singh continued his fine form with a perfect flick to score back-to-back goals in the 5th and 8th minute, giving India an early 2-0 lead.
India continued to build on the momentum as the hosts created their third PC in the 15th minute. Though Harmanpreet’s flick was defended, India forward Sukhjeet Singh picked up the rebound to find the gap.
With the crowds backing them, India was quick to score goal no.4 with stylish forward Akashdeep Singh beating the Chinese defenders with his trademark tomahawk to the post. However, a minor error by India defender Varun Kumar led to a counter by China who managed to pull off their first goal of the match through E Wenhui in the 18th minute.
Varun salvaged the error by scoring one for India in the following minute through a PC.
China, making a comeback in International hockey through this event, were working hard to find their rhythm again. They did well to overcome early setbacks by patiently looking for a chance in the circle. Jiesheng Gao was on target to beat India’s PC defence and fetch his team an important 2nd goal.
India, however, ended the second quarter on a high with Varun scoring India’s 6th goal in the 30th minute.
Though China began the third quarter with better defence, restricting India’s movement in the 25m mark. They played with confidence, stemming from the two goals they scored in the second quarter. It took about 10 minutes into the third quarter, for India to find another opening in the striking circle.
This time, it was seasoned striker Mandeep Singh who picked up a good variation in PC execution to score India’s 7th goal in the 40th minute. Incidentally, it was also Mandeep’s 100th international goal.
With a comfortable 7-2 lead, India went into the last quarter wanting to end with a bigger margin. Though they created a number of chances including the PC in the dying minutes of the match, China held their nerves to hold on to the scoreline. Their goalie Caiyu Wang did well to stop India’s PC attempt forcing India to be happy with a 7-2 win.
During the post-match presentation, India Captain Harmanpreet Singh was presented with Top Goal Scorer of FIH Hockey Pro League season 4. He was presented with a cheque of 3000 USD by FIH President Dato Tayyab Ikram.