India blank China 4-0 in Asian Champions Trophy opener

Doha: Vice captain VR Raghunath scored twice as defending Champions India started off their Asian Champions Trophy campaign with a majestic 4-0 victory over China, here today.

Right winger SV Sunil struck early on in the 13th minute. while his statemate and hero of the recent Hockey India League auctions Raghunath, converted team`s first penalty corner five minutes later and then another in the 52nd minute.

In the next minute Ranchi Rhino`s proud possession Birendra Lakra deflected a carpet drive off Rupinder Pal Singh, which hit a defender?s leg to give India a self goal and a commanding final score of 4-0.

Visibly elated national coach Michael Nobbs rated the performance as solid.

"We gave a solid performance," he said.

Indian captain Sardar Singh attributed the victory to good execution of strategy.

"In the past few years we have been working on winning he first matches comfortably and today?s is another gain for that strategy," he said.

China offered some resistance in the beginning, but had to second-fiddle to Indian forwards as the math wore one.

Sunil struck in the 13 minute, much against the run of play. He trapped a neat a cross from Akashdeep Singh, entered the circle on a spurt before whacking the ball into the net.

Five minutes later, centre-forward Gurwinder Singh Chandi sped past a host of defenders and hit the ball powerfully at the goal. Chinese goalie Rifeng Su came quickly but could not stop ball from rising. India got its first penalty corner of which Raghunath struck with a grounder.

India attacked form the word go, but the Chinese matched the Indian enthusiasm with equal elegance in the defence in the first ten minutes. Both teams were shaky initially, trying to explore each other`s territory with caution.


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