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India crush Pakistan in hockey World Cup opener

Last updated on: February 28, 2010 23:13 IST

Sandeep Singh scored twice from penalty-corners as India beat Pakistan 4-1 in their opening match of the Hero Honda 12th men's hockey World Cup at the Major Dhyan Chand National stadium in Delhi on Sunday.

The ace drag-flicker scored in the 35th and 57th minute to enable India avenge a 3-6 Champions Challenge defeat to the subcontinental rivals in Salta, Argentina, in December.

The eight-time Olympic champions, who won the World Cup in 1974, led 2-0 at half-time. They got their other goals through Shivendra Singh (27th minute) and Prabhjot Singh (37th).

Sohail Abbas scored from a penalty-corner 11 minutes from time to reduce the margin for Pakistan.

Sandeep Singh was named man of the match.

The victory not only gave India, who finished 11th out of 12 teams in the last World Cup at Monchengladbach, Germany, fours years ago, a 3-2 head-to-head record against Pakistan in the quadrennial event, but also a Rs 100,000 purse to each player and support staff of the team.

Both India and Pakistan earned five penalty corners each, but the home team converted two while Pakistan could find the net just once, the crossbar coming in the way twice from Sohail's flicks.

Earlier, England shocked Australia 3-2 while Spain beat South Africa 4-2.

England led 3-1 at the half-time. James Tindall scored two goals and Ashley Jackson once for the winners while Jamie Dwyer accounted for Australia's goals.

In the opening match of the tournament, Spain and South Africa were tied at 2-2 at half- time, but Spain came up with a solid second half display to score twice again.

Julian Hykes and Ian Haley scored for South Africa while Roc Oliva, David Alegre, Rodrigo Graza and Pau Quemada scored for Spain.

Mid-field gave India the edge

If not for Salman Akbar, Pakistan would have been down by a bigger margin at half-time. Pakistan's goalkeeper came the rescue on more than one occasion. First he denied Tushar Khandekar a chance to register his name on the score sheet by stopping the India forward's powerful strike as early as the seventh minute and then gloved away Diwakar Ram's flick from the hosts' first penalty-corner, in the 16th minute.

India were able to dictate terms because of their control over the mid-field. The pressure eventually resulted in the first goal through hardworking Shivendra, who scored from a rebound after Sandeep's low flick was saved by Akbar off India's second penalty-corner, in the 25th minute.

India doubled the lead five seconds from the break from a set-piece following their third penalty-corner, after they appealed for a foot foul and the video umpire upheld it. Sandeep made no mistake this time, much delight of the capacity crowd.

It was 3-0 two minutes into the second half when veteran forward Prabhjot Singh scored from a goalmouth melee.

Pakistan were unfortunate as the wood work denied them on two scoring chances, on both occasions Abbas was the unlucky player.

Sandeep registered his second goal of the day, again converting a penalty-corner with aplomb in the 57th minute.

Pakistan got a consolation goal two minutes later when Abbas got third time lucky, converting his side's fourth penalty-corner.

There was more drama in the dying moments of the match as both India and Pakistan earned a penalty-corner each but failed to find the net.

India next face Australia, while Pakistan will take on Spain on Tuesday.