Penalty corner specialist Rupinder Pal Singh was the cynosure of all eyes at the Kuantan Hockey Stadium this evening after his six-goal feat boosted India to a 10-2 victory over Japan in the Asian Champions Trophy hockey tournament, here today.
Relishing his highest scoring feat in international hockey, Rupinder said it was the momentum provided by his teammates that paved the way for his six penalty corner goals.
Sending his initial four penalty corner shots into the Japanese citadel with precision, Rupinder made the most of the early chances to set the trend for this massive victory. This was India’s first outing after the quarterfinal ouster from the Olympic Games at Rio de Janeiro.
“I am obviously feeling great as we converted our positive outlook into so many goals,” Rupinder said, still allowing the feeling of a six-goal feat to sink in.
Boosting his tally to 165 goals from 153 matches, the 25-year-old Rupinder continues to be India’s highest goal-scorer in international hockey this year. Before this outing, he had scored seven goals in 20 matches, which included five penalty corner conversions and two from penalty strokes.
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The 10 goals against Japan today are India’s highest since they scored nine against Bangladesh in the Asia Cup three years ago.
“Confidence keeps growing as the goals keep on coming. Of course, this is the first time I have scored six goals,” said Rupinder.
Malaysia has been a happy-hunting ground for Rupinder, who made his international debut in the 2010 Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh.
It was the Malaysian city of Ipoh where he returned to score his first hat-trick against Great Britain the following year in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup.
“I fondly remember my early hockey internationals that I played here in Malaysia. This six-goal feat is another of those wonderful moments,” said Rupinder.
Rupinder’s rasping drag-flicks repeatedly stunned the Japanese defenders as he mixed up the angles of his shots. His six goal-scoring flicks went into different parts of the goal and included a grounder as well as a shot that went into the roof of the net.
With Rupinder converting six of India’s 10 penalty corners, it was a day to forget for Japan, who had got the silver medal in the last Asian Champions Trophy behind Pakistan in 2013.