Even before the Harjeet Singh and Co. could occupy the blue turf at the Major Dhyan Chand Stadium for their opening match against Canada on Thursday evening, coach Harendra Singh and Roleant Oltmans watched every moment of England and as well as opponents South Africa.
It seemed to be a good planning for the future matches against the two good sides in the Pool D as the outing against Canada was just for the beginning of their mission success. This didn’t prove wrong as India chalked out 4-0 win against a side, which had a bottom finish at the last edition of the event in New Delhi in 2013.
As expected, former champions India dominated the proceedings from the word go and managed two penalty corners in the first 15 minutes itself, but drag-flicker Harmanpreet Singh’s hits were able deflected by Canada’s goalkeeper Iqwinder Gill. The match started 15 minutes before its scheduled time to avoid an impact of a heavy fog.
A minute before the lemon break, things changed dramatically when Mandeep Singh’s reverse hit found the target (1-0). Studded with nine players of Indian origins, Canada did make it to the Indian citadel just twice in the first half. Harmanpreet Singh set the ploy for India’s first goal, sending a cross for Vikramjit Singh, who passed it to Parvinder almost at the goalpost. A deflection from Canada’s goalkeeper Iqwinder Gill then allowed Mandeep to play a reverse hit to draw the first blood.
Indian continued to dominate even after a change in the ends, and earned back-to-back penalty corners in the 44th minute, but to no avail, but a penalty stroke in the following minute after Harmnpreet Singh’s hit being obstructed wrongly, allowed India to extend their lead to 2-0. Harmanpreet converted the white spot chance with ease.
India could convert just one Penalty Corner when Varun Kumar struck on a rebound in the 60th minute (3-0), before Ajit Pandey striking a field goal in the 66th minute. Canadian coach Indy Sehmbi termed teams’ showing quite positive. “Boys really played well in the first half. Though we conceded a goal in the first half, we did well in defence,” he said, adding, “Boys couldn’t pace with Indians in the second half, and it’s a good learning for us.”
“We were a bit unlucky as even after having opportunities we couldn’t convert chances into goals. But once we had our first goal, there was no looking back then,” man-of-the-match Mandeep Singh said after the match.
Earlier in the day, New Zealand scored a solitary goal win against Japan in a Group C tie, before defending champions Germany struggling a bit while beating Spain 2-1. South Africans despite tackling the ball in the terms of pace of the game, lost to England 2-4.