Drag flicker Diwakar Ram's brace helped India beat Japan 2-0 and start their Junior Asia Cup title defence on a winning note at the Gachibowli hockey stadium in Hyderabad on Friday.
Though the Indian forwards made several raids on the Japanese goal, they could find the net only twice.
Ram scored the first goal as early as the sixth minute and then doubled the lead in the 41st minute, both through penalty-corners.
However, India's penalty-corner conversion was not up to the mark; they could capitalise on only two of the five they forced.
Japan may have lost the match, but put up a brave fight. What did them in was their forwards' inability to capitalise on scoring opportunities.
Although, India pocketed full points from the match, their performance against a lowly Japanese side was lacklustre. Coach A K Bansal was quick to express his disappointment, saying the players need to pull up their socks in the remaining matches of the tournament.
"We played very poorly in the first half. The boys must have been under pressure because it was their first match. But we need to definitely improve," he said.
Considering the performance, India face a daunting task against formidable Malaysia on Saturday.
Earlier in the day, the other favourites of the tournament, Pakistan and South Korea, had easy outings against minnows Oman and South Korea, while the match between Malaysia and Singapore ended in a thrilling 2-2 draw.
Pakistan thumped Oman 5-1, while South Korea routed Bangladesh 8-0.
For Pakistan Abdul Haseem Khan scored four goals and Muhmmad Zubair added to the tally, while Oman's only goal came from Yasir Jan Al Balushi's stick.
Nam Hyun Woo scored a hat-trick for the Koreans and Lim Woo Geun scored two goals, while Seo Jun Su, Lee Dong Hyun and Bae Jong Suk scored one each.
In the match between Malaysia and Singapore, Mohd Fazri Mohd Jailani and Cher Shao Jie Benjamin of Singapore scored two goals, while Malaysia fought back to level the scores in the second half through Ahmad Kazamirul Nasruddin and Hang Edzharsyah Hang Tuah.