New Delhi: Indian eves` preparation for the next month`s Olympic qualifiers kicked off in style as they defeated Azerbaijan 3-0 in the first hockey Test at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium, on Sunday.
The hosts, ranked 13th in the world, were by far the dominant side on display and scored through Anuradha Devi (19th minute), Soundarya (51st) and Joydeep Kaur (62nd) to take a 1-0 lead in the four-match series.
The Indians created most of their opportunities from the left-flank with Soundarya and Jasjeet Kaur combining well.
The 15th ranked Azerbaijan side, on the other hand, lacked purpose in their attacks, which were far and few.
As expected, it was the home team which scored first when an unmarked Anuradha tapped in Soundarya`s measured pass from the right flank.
The Indians then stepped up the pressure on the Azerbaijan defence which resulted in two penalty corners (22nd minute and 34th) in the first period, but they squandered both to go into the breather with a 1-0 cushion.
The scenario was no different after the change of ends as it was the home which controlled the possession.
India`s penalty corner conversion also improved in the second half as they utilised both their set pieces.
India earned their third short corner in the 50th minute and Soundarya made no mistake in deflecting home captain Asunta Lakra`s hit.
Joydeep then finished off the scoreline for the home team when she converted India`s fourth and final penalty corner, eight minutes from the hooter with a fierce shot to which Azerbaijan goalkeeper Viktoriya had no answer.
The second Test between the two sides will be played on Monday.
Even though India coach C R Kumar was contended with the result of the match, he rued the lack of rhythm and intensity among the girls.
"With the available resources, I am happy with the performance of the team. But we didn`t find the expected rhythm," he said after the game.
"In the qualifiers we will play back-to-back matches, so I will field the same team tomorrow to check their stamina and rhythm."
He also informed that keeping in mind the Olympic qualifiers, there will be a trial session for the players on Tuesday ahead of the third Test and it will be witnessed by the national selectors.