Already out of the running for the summit clash, a misfiring India had to toil hard to get the better of a lowly Canada 5-3 and register their first win in the ongoing 24th Sultan Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament in Ipoh, Malaysia on Thursday.
Rupinder Pal Singh (13th minute) and VR Raghunath (32nd) scored through penalty corners before Ramanadeep Singh (46th, 47th) scored two field goals, while Satbir Singh (49th) rounded off the tally with another field strike.
For Canada, who are ranked 15th in the world as compared to India's ninth spot, Oliver Scholfield (43rd), Jagdish Gill (49th) and David Jameson (52nd) were the goal-scorers.
Even though India had the better share of possession and ball control, they were far from impressive.
For the fourth straight match, the Indians were guilty of missing numerous chances and their fragile backline, as usual, conceded soft goals.
In the presence of two big dragflick exponents in Raghunath and Rupinder, penalty corners are considered India's strong point, but they cut a sorry figure in this department as well, utilising just two of the eight short corners that came their way on Thursday.
Besides being new chief coach Paul van Ass' first win after taking charge of the team, the only solace from Thursday's game was the performance of its forwardline, who finally showed some form by scoring three fine field goals.
It was, however, Canada who had the first shy at the goal when they earned the game's first penalty corner in the fifth minute but Indian goalkeeper PR Sreejesh made a double save to deny the opponents.
Minutes later, India got their first scoring chance but Satbir was denied by Canadian goalkeeper David Carter.
Canada had another penalty corner in the ninth minute and Sreejesh was once again forced to come to the action to keep John Smythe's flick away.
Soon, India began to mount continuous raids into the Canada citadel and, in the process, earned three quick penalty corners, the last of which was converted by Rupinder in the 13th minute.
With India already out of the title race, Van Ass said he was looking forward to collecting as much knowledge as possible about the team from this tournament and vowed to give world champions Australia a tough fight on Saturday.
"The good part is I don't have to calculate anymore. I am looking forward to the next game against Australia. That's the toughest game. Australia are pretty strong and it is going to be a big challenge," he said.
"For me, it is important to see how individually and as a unit the team holds under pressure, which has not been the case so far. That's the information I want to get. I want to make it as difficult as possible for Australia," Van Ass added.