Competing at the Tonglu Equestrian Centre, all four Indians gave an excellent display of riding which fetched them top podium place.
A buoyant India has their task cut out when they take on robust and resilient England in their next pool D match of the Hockey World Cup at Rourkela on Sunday.
Both teams won their opening fixtures with the hosts stretched by tenacious Spain before winning 2-0. For fifth ranked England, their neighbours and debutant Wales only challenged in the final quarter but were blanked 5-0.
The goalline, however, does not reflect the superiority India enjoyed over Spain. The hosts should have easily won by four- goal margin but for the failure of skipper Harmanpreet Singh to convert a stroke and Shamsher Singh’s muffing up a chance before the open goals.
Even though India gleefully grabbed three points against the world number eight Los Redsticks, their failure of penalty corner conversions by Harmanpreet would be rankling. It was only on the rebound strike by his deputy Amit Rohidas that India broke the ice while the other five attempts and the penalty stroke were barren.
Despite India having the better share of the proceedings, it was the Indian Oil midfielder Hardik Singh who orchestrated a sublimely skillful rundown to add cushion to the scoreline.
England showed their mettle striking a hammer blow in 35 seconds against the Welshmen and getting off to their best ever opening result in any World Cup. In the hunt for a podium finish here after being eluded in the previous three editions where they finished fourth, England will strive for a winner which will take them to the cusp of a direct quarter final slot and avoid the ignominy of an additional crossover. However it will be too close to call as India may have the last laugh with the raucous crowd behind them.
India’s defence will have to work overtime to blunt the English forays from their midfield motors Phil Roper, Zach Wallace and David Goodfield besides clinical forward Sam Ward with Nick Bandurack in tandem. Liam Ansell and Ward will be Coach Paul Revington’s first choice penalty corner flickers.
Indian coach Graham Reid will look for his forwards Mandeep Singh, Akashdeep Singh, Abhishek and Lalit Upadhyay with the attacking midfielders Hardik Singh, Manpreet Singh and Vivek Sagar Prasad on the overlaps and turnovers apart from off the ball running.
The two teams have had eight World Cup encounters with India winning in three while one was drawn. It is pertinent to note that though India won their last showdown at the Tokyo Olympics quarter final in 2021, they have been beaten in their last four meetings in the World Cup.