Rupinder Pal hat-trick lifts India to 3-1 victory over Britain
Ipoh: Rookie drag-flicker Rupinder Pal Singh fired in a hat-trick as India made amends of their first match loss with a convincing 3-1 victory over Britain in the Azlan Shah hockey tournament on Friday.
Young Rupinder, who was included in the squad due to the absence of penalty corner specialist Sandeep Singh, struck in the 10th, 54th and 57th minutes to give depending champions India the upper hand against a strong Britain who had come here with a nearly full-strength side.
With the win, India, who had come here without at least half a dozen senior players, bounced back into the tournament in style after going down to South Korea 2-3 in their campaign opener.
India junior team regular member Rupinder, who had featured in a few internationals with the senior side last year, sent three low drag-flicks to sound the board of the opposition goal.
India, who dominated the midfield, converted three of the five penalty corners they earned in the match and led 3-0 before Britain pulled one goal back through James Tindall in the 62nd minute.
Britain, who are fine-tuning their team for next year`s Olympic Games at home, had defeated Malaysia 3-1 yesterday. After a couple of initial forays into rival territories by both teams, Rupinder opened the scoring for India in the 10th minute with a grounder that surprised Britain goalkeeper James Fair to sound the board.
At the other end, Indian goalkeeper Bharat Chhetri padded away three penalty corner shots as the defenders rushed out to narrow the angle for the British strikers. Just before the breather, Indian striker Roshan Minz broke into the rival circle from the left flank, but found no support from other forwards.
India increased the lead midway through the second session when Rupinder found the mark with a low push into the goal past the outstretched pads of the custodian in the 55th minute.
Two minutes later Rupinder completed his hat-trick, this time directing the drag-flick into the right side of the board as the goalkeeper moved to the other corner in anticipation of the shot.
India then went into the defensive to hold the lead, allowing Britain mid-field space. Britain had a couple of cracks at the Indian citadel.
Tindall found the target in the 62nd minute off a cross from the right. He also got another chance but shot wide past the bewildered Indian goalkeeper.