Luke Doerner scored a hat trick as the reigning champion Australian men opened their Commonwealth Games field hockey defense with a convincing 9-0 win over Scotland in near-empty stadium on Wednesday.
Pakistan went on top of Pool A with six points after defeating Malaysia 4-1. The 1998 bronze medalist England made a decent start with 4-1 win over Trinidad & Tobago in Pool B and New Zealand outsmarted South Africa by 4-2 as moths hovered over the MDC Stadium when floodlights were switched on.
The Australian women edged host India 2-1, giving the 2006 champions top place in Pool A with six points. England women recovered after conceding an early goal to beat Canada 4-1 for its second successive win in Pool B.
Pakistan, the 2006 finalist, scored three field goals through experienced Shakeel Abbasi, Rehan Butt and Mohammad Waqas in the second half after the teams were locked 1-1 through penalty corner strikes by halftime.
Kookaburras 31-year-old Doerner neatly converted short corners on either side of half time to provide the three-time gold medalists with a perfect start in Pool A.
Chris Ciriello scored two field goals in the first half while Rob Hammond, Trent Mitton, Simon Orchard and Des Abbott also scored. The moths didn't unsettle the Kiwis, who relied on some superb stick work in a fast-paced first half against South Africa, who managed to reduce the margin with a late penalty corner conversion through Justin Reid.
Earlier, fit-again Simon Mantell's twin strikes shot England 2-0 ahead by halftime in the afternoon match. Ashley Jackson scored off a penalty corner and Alastair Brogdon pounced on the rebound off goalkeeper Karlos Stephen's pads in the 58th minute to complete the England goal tally.
There were only about 100 hockey fans watching the opening match for the third consecutive day of the tournament, which had been one of the expected crowd favorites due to field hockey's popularity in India.
Australia coach Ric Charlesworth had few complaints from his players on the field, but was concerned with thin attendance for the third successive day.
"It is disappointing not to see the crowds (because) there are quality teams in this tournament," Charlesworth said. "Hopefully they will come when we play against India."
Veteran Kookaburras captain Jamie Dwyer, who lifted the World Cup at the same stadium in March, was hoping New Delhi would continue to a fruitful venue.
"We want to finish the year well and hopefully go home with the right color medal," he said. "We knew if we played well (today) the result will take care of itself."
Shelly Liddelow's first half field goal was doubled by Ashleigh Nelson when she tapped the ball home off a fine cross from Kate Hollywood in the 59th minute.
Rani Rampal reduced the margin a minute from fulltime after Jessica Nicole couldn't clear the ball in the striking circle. "We knew India will be skillful and we are happy to come out with win," Alison Bruce said. "It was pretty hot but we have to do a lot adapting with ice vests."
India, which won gold at Manchester in 2002, has only one point from its drawn opening game against Scotland and has one more tough group match to go against South Africa on Oct. 9.