Buoyant India started their 14th edition of hockey World Cup campaign on a highly positive note as they routed South Africa 5-0 on the first day of the competition at Bhubaneswar’s Kalinga Stadium. The men in blues, who are aiming to end their 43 years of title drought, dominated the game as the African side couldn’t get an opportunity to look for the target on Wednesday.
Mandeep Singh scored the opening goal with a dash shot off a rebound from the African keeper Rassie Pieterse from a Harmanpreet's drag flick after India earned a penalty corner in the ninth minute. The hosts smelt their victory when Akashdeep Singh wasted no time to lead the score 2-0 within 2 minutes when he struck the ball from the close range, giving no chance to Pieterse.
India led the game 3-0 after 43 minutes when Simranjeet Singh scored in the third quarter. The dazzling squad continued to keep the game in their hook in front of the home crowd making themselves a comfortable 4-0 lead in the 45th minute when Lalit Upadhyay deflected the ball inside the goal post from an aggressive assist from Akashdeep.
The world no 5 host nation kept their front line in attacking position and managed to finish a clean 5-0 against South Africa after Simranjeet scored his second goal in the 46th minute.
India will next play world no 3 and Olympics silver medallists Belgium on December 2. The Red Lions outplayed Canada 2-1 in a thrilling tournament opener.