India thrashed China 9-0 to stay in the hunt for top spot in the round-robin league competition of the fourth Asian Champions Trophy hockey tournament on Tuesday.
Akashdeep Singh, Yousuf Affan and Jasjit Singh Kumar scored two goals each as India steamrolled the Chinese defence. The Indians were looking to equal their 10-goal feat against Japan in this tournament when the hooter ended the contest.
Rupinder Pal Singh, captaining India in this contest, Nikkin Thimmaiah and Lalit Upadhyay also made entries in the score-sheet as India boosted their points tally to 10 from four matches, one of which was drawn.
India will take on hosts Malaysia on Wednesday with both teams in contention for top spot in the round-robin league standings. Malaysia have nine points from three successive victories.
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India went into this game without ace goalkeeper P R Sreejesh, who was seen wearing a brace on his left ankle. This paved the way for the coaches to give for a full game to goalkeeper Akash Chikte, who did well to ward off two penalty corner shots in a game otherwise played in the Chinese territory.
Akashdeep opened the Indian account in the ninth minute when he intercepted a back-pass among Chinese defenders and beat goalkeeper Wang Hong Yu with a shot from the top of the circle that went into the net.
Akashdeep was also in the picture for India’s second goal in the 18th minute as he squared the ball to unmarked Affan in a brisk raid. Affan sent a well-directed push into the boards. Jasjit swapped passes with Talwinder Singh in the scoring zone before scoring with a fine reverse shot that wrong-footed the custodian in the 22nd minute before Rupinder converted the first penalty corner three minutes later to give India a 4-0 lead at half-time.
India’s highest goal-getter with eight penalty corner conversions in this tournament, Rupinder is also the highest scorer of the tournament so far. Rupinder also sent the second Indian penalty corner into the net, but the goal was cancelled on video review sought by the Chinese team.
Thimmaiah made it 5-0 after he got a short forward pass inside the circle from Surender Kumar in the 34th minute before China earned the two successive penalty corners. Goalkeeper Chikte did well to palm away a rising drag-flick from Chinese penalty corner shooter Cheng Xi Yuan in the 36th minute.
A minute later, Upadhyay shot on target for India’s sixth goal after receiving a square ball from Affan inside the scoring circle that beat the Chinese goalkeeper. Upadhyay had all the time to control the ball and then flick it into an open goal.
Akashdeep then scored his second goal in the 39th minute as he picked the ball on the left flank and moved square to shoot home from the top of the circle. China managed to earn their third penalty corner in the 40th minute, but ended up conceding a goal at the other end.
In a quick turnaround, Sardar Singh sent a cross from left on which Affan capitalised for his second goal. Jasjit rounded off the Indian scoring in the 51st minute with his second strike in a goalmouth scrimmage that saw the defenders ward off two Indian tries before Jasjit’s shot sounded the boards.