India dished out a pathetic performance to go down 0-2 to higher-ranked England and start their campaign on a losing note at the Hero Hockey World League Final in New Delhi on Friday.
The Indians looked horribly out of sorts as England rode on two goals from Adam Dixon (28th, 45th minute) to pocket full three points from their opening Pool A encounter at the floodlit Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium.
Chief coach Terry Walsh could not have imagined such a horrible performance from his wards in his first international match with the Indian team.
From the onset, the Indians looked rusty and seemed to run out of ideas when the ball was in their possession.
India's attacks lacked teeth and they hardly troubled the England goal barring the two penalty corners they earned in the opening half.
England, on the other hand, were slow to get off the blocks but gained control of the proceedings and looked threatening as the match progressed. They looked far more promising in their moves.
It took India 14 minutes to get their first scoring chance when they earned two back-to-back penalty corners but dragflick exponents VR Raghunath and Rupinderpal Singh failed to cash in on the opportunities.
India were lucky to not concede the lead in the 17th minute when an England attack came off the post.
After the initial hiccups, England started to find their footing in the match and earned three penalty corners in quick succession.
While Ashley Jackson shot wide from the first set piece, India custodian P R Sreejesh denied England the second penalty corner with his quick reflexes.
But soon after, England earned another penalty corner when Kothajit Singh intentionally brought down David Condon just outside the India circle and Adam Dixon scored with a variation to give his side the lead at the break.
England, ranked fourth in the world, started in same vein in the second half and doubled their lead in the 45th minute when an unmarked Dixon scored from close range from his team's fourth penalty corner.
India secured their third penalty corner in the 46th minute but Birendra Lakra failed to stop the push.
India finally managed to find the back of the opposition net in the 59th minute when Rupinderpal converted their fourth penalty corner but the goal was disallowed after English players went for referral complaining that the pushed ball was not stopped on or beyond the edge of the circle.
It turned out to be a nightmarish outing for India as they continued to struggle throughout the entire 70 minutes.
The scoreline could have been 3-0 in favour of England had it not been for Sreejesh who made a brilliant save to deny the Englishman their fifth penalty corner in the dying minutes of the match.
Meanwhile, in the first Pool A match of the day, favourites Germany walloped New Zealand 6-1 to make a perfect start to their campaign in the eight-nation event.
The Germans scored three goals in either side of the break to pocket full three points from the game. Germany scored three goals from penalty corners while the other three came from field efforts.
Thilo Stralkowski (11th, 44th minute) converted two penalty corners while Florian Fuchs (31st) scored the other goal from the set piece.
The other three German goals came from field efforts from Christopher Wesley (1st), Tobias Hauke (45th) and Philipp Jan Rabente (48th).
New Zealand's lone goal was scored by Kane Russell in the fifth minute.
India will next play New Zealand in a must-win match on Saturday, while England will be up against Germany.
Image: Adam Dixon
Photograph: Will Russell/Getty Images