Jakarta: The Indian men’s hockey team secured their berth in the semi-finals of the 18th Asian Games as they registered an emphatic 20-0 victory over Sri Lanka in their fifth and last Pool A encounter here at the Gelora Bung Karno Hockey field on Tuesday.
India’s striker Akashdeep Singh (10′, 11′, 18′, 23′, 33′, 43′) scored six times for the World No. 5 team, while Rupinder Pal Singh (2′, 52′, 53′), Harmanpreet Singh (6′, 22′, 33′), Mandeep Singh (36′, 44′, 59′), Lalit Kumar Upadhyay (58′,59′), Vivek Sagar Prasad (32′), Amit Rohidas (30′) and Dilpreet Singh (2′) also scored for the Indian team.
India’s quick start saw Harmanpreet Singh’s shot from their first PC (Penalty Corner) come off a Sri Lankan defender on the line, which saw the umpire award a penalty stroke to the World No. 5 team in the second minute. It was Rupinder Pal Singh who opened the scoring for India as he struck the ball towards the right of the Sri Lankan goalkeeper, TKH Hendeniya Mudiyanselage.
The Indian team won another penalty corner in the fifth minute, and this time Harmanpreet Singh struck the ball towards the goalkeeper’s left, beating the Sri Lankan to give India a 2-0 lead. A third penalty corner in the next minute meant that Amit Rohidas was denied from the spot by the first Sri Lankan rusher.
In the 10th minute, striker Akashdeep Singh also registered his name on the scoresheet as he took advantage of the inability of the Sri Lankan defence to clear the ball past the Sri Lankan goalkeeper from close range to make it 3-0 in India’s favour. The same minute saw Rupinder Pal Singh being denied by the Mudiyanselage, as his shot towards the right corner was palmed away. However, Sri Lanka conceded a fourth goal in the 11th minute as Akashdeep Singh found himself in possession again and pushed the ball between the goalkeeper’s legs from close range to score his second goal of the match.
Even though the Indian team had more openings towards the closing stages of the first quarter, they ended the period with a four-goal lead.
The beginning of the second quarter saw Akashdeep Singh complete his hat-trick in the 18th minute as he deflected Mandeep Singh’s pass from the left flank into the back of the net. Two minutes later, Varun Kumar was denied a scoring chance as his drag-flick resulting from a PC was saved by the Sri Lankan goalkeeper.
India’s dominance saw them win another penalty corner in the 21st minute, which was well-converted by Harmanpreet Singh to extend India’s lead to six goals. Akashdeep Singh continued his fine scoring form as he struck a fierce half-volley from the centre of the circle to make it 7-0 after some patient build-up play by the Indian forward-line. India had several chances in the latter stages of the second period but could only take a seven-goal lead into the half-time break.
Youngster Vivek Sagar Prasad also registered his name on the score-sheet in the 32nd minute as he produced a slick deflection off Akashdeep Singh’s quick pass in front of the Sri Lankan goal. India scored their ninth goal of the match in the same minute as Akashdeep Singh turned scorer this time, flicking Lalit Upadhyay’s pass past Mudiyanselage. India’s constant attacking play saw them add a 10th goal in the 33rd minute as Harmanpreet Singh completed his hat-trick with a well-executed PC.
Mandeep Singh also joined the scoring as he positioned himself in front of goal to cleverly deflect Harmanpreet Singh’s drag-flick into the Sri Lankan goal. The 38th minute saw Amit Rohidas score from a PC as his vicious shot couldn’t be stopped by the Sri Lankan goalkeeper.
The World No. 5 team displayed their dominance as they scored two more goals in the third quarter which were scored by Akashdeep Singh and Mandeep Singh respectively.
India had their fair share of chances in the fourth quarter but seemed to have taken their foot off the gas. However, two back-to-back PCs in the 52nd minute saw Rupinder Pal Singh score from the spot to make it 15-0 in India’s favour. The ace drag-flicker was in action again in the next minute as he struck another fierce stroke towards the top right corner to make it 16-0.
The 53rd minute saw Rupinder turn provider as his pass into the striking circle saw Dilpreet Singh score off a backhand stroke to extend India’s lead further to seventeen goals.
The closing stages of the match saw India score three goals in two minutes as Lalit Kumar Upadhyay scored the 18th and 19th goals for the world number five team while Mandeep Singh completed his hat-trick of goals as he scored India’s 20th goal in the 59th minute.
With this, the Indian men’s hockey team progressed to the semi-finals and will now face Malaysia on August 30.
In athletics, India team bagged silver in mixed 4 x 400m relay. The team comprising Muhammed Anas Yahiya, Poovamma Machettira, Hima Das and Arokiarajiv clocked at 3:15.71 to bring up the nation’s 50th medal.
In javelin throw, India’s Annu Rani finished sixth with a mark of 53.93. In diving, the Indian team of Ramananda Kongbrailatpam and Siddharth Pardeshi finished sixth with a total score of 322.14 in men’s synchronised 3m springboard.
India is currently ranked eighth at the prestigious tournament with a total of 50 medals so far – nine gold, 19 silver and 22 bronze.