Drag-flickers Rupinderpal Singh and V R Raghunath scored hat-tricks as India extended their winning run in the Asia Cup hockey tournament, trouncing Bangladesh 9-1 in their concluding Pool B match at the Sultan Azlan Shah stadium in Ipoh, Malaysia, on Wednesday.
The victory saw them top the pool and set up a meeting with Malaysia in Friday’s semi-finals.
Rupinderpal opened the scoring in the third minute and then added to his tally with goals in the 19th, 27th, 61st minutes.
India’s other scorers were Raghunath (29th, 47th, 52nd minute), Nikkin Thimmaiah (24th) and Mandeep Singh (59th).
Mohd Mamunur Rahman Chayan accounted for Bangladesh’s goal, in the 34th minute.
The Indians, who led 5-1 at the breather, had sealed a semi-final place after shocking title-holders South Korea 2-0 in their second pool outing.
The other semi-final will be between South Korea, runners-up Pool B and Pakistan, winners of Pool ‘A’.
Earlier in the day, title-holders South Korea mauled debutants Oman 10-0.
The fancied Koreans scored just twice in the first half through a penalty-corner conversion by Jang Jong Hyun (15th minute) and a fine field effort by Kang Moon Kweon seven minutes later.
After the breather, however, they were more forceful and scored eight times.
Yoon Sung Hoon scored in the 39th and 40th minute to make the scoreline 4-0.
Jang Jong Hyun converted his second penalty-corner of the day in the 42nd minute before Junag Man Jae scored a field goal eight minutes later.
In the 51st minute, Lee Jung Jun found the back of the net and then an own goal from Oman extended Korea’s lead to 8-0.
Kang Moon Kweon scored another field goal in the 62nd minute before Jang Jong Hyun was again at the thick of things, converting his third penalty-corner of the match two minutes later to complete the rout.
The match between India and Bangladesh started nearly 40 minutes late as the evening’s first game, between Korea and Oman, was delayed due to heavy downpour.
Playing under a persistent drizzle and damp conditions, the Indians meant business from the start. Such was their dominance that they earned as many as 10 penalty-corners in the match, out of which they converted six.
Ranked 31st in the world, Bangladesh were expected to be a mismatch for the eight-time Olympic champions India, and they turned out to be exactly that.
As India’s interim coach Roelant Oltmans indicated after the Korea match, the Indians went for attack against Bangladesh from the opening whistle.
It took them just four minutes to take the lead when Rupinder converted the team’s first penalty-corner. India earned two more penalty-corners soon after but the Bangladeshi defence averted the danger.
But India doubled the lead in the 19th minute from their fourth penalty-corner, which Rupinder converted with a powerful, high flick to the top left of the Bangladesh goal.
Young Nikkin Thimmaiah then extended India's lead by scoring his first international goal in the 25th minute with a reverse shot from the top of the opposition circle.
India soon made it 5-0 via a penalty-stroke, which they earned after Rupinder's flick from a penalty-corner hit the body of a Bangladeshi defender.
Lanky Rupinder stepped up to take the shot from the spot and converted it successfully to complete his hat-trick.
Bangaldesh, however, pulled one back just at the stroke of half-time through captain Mohd. Mamunur Rahman Chayan, who converted their only penalty-corner of the match to register their first goal of the tournament.
The Indians continued in the same vein after the change of ends and pumped in four more goals to assert their supremacy in the lop-sided contest.
The Indians took a little while to get on the scoring mode in the second half with Malak finding the opposition net in the 47th minute.
Thereafter, it was all a Rupinder and Raghunath show. While Raghunath converted two more penalty-corners in the second half, Rupinder matched his compatriot scoring his fourth goal of the match nine minutes from the hooter from India's 10th and last penalty-corner.
Image: Rupinderpal Singh
Photograph: Getty Images