This piece was published in Sportskeeda
It was a typical tournament opener for India – the often seen ‘first game sluggishness’ of the national team came to the fore as they locked horns with lowly Sri Lanka at Incheon at the Asian Games. It was crystal clear that complacency had crept into the Indian ranks as they dished out a performance bordering on mediocrity and lack of serious intent to go for the jugular.
Normally, a 8-0 win would be touted as a decent enough win for any side, but head coach Terry Walsh must have been downcast with the way wards played on Sunday. The Indian forwardline lacked the desired spark, especially Gurwinder Singh Chandi who had a poor day in office wasting several scoring chances and his woes were compounded when he was taken off the pitch after taking a nasty blow on his face off a deflection following an Indian foray in the second quarter.
Nikkin Thimmiah gave Indian an early lead in the 5th minute and it looked like Sri Lanka were hurtling towards another heavy defeat after their 0-14 drubbing at the hands of Pakistan in the opening tie on Saturday, when Rupinder Pal Singh converted a penalty stroke and later his drag-flick colleague Vokkaliga Raghunath whipped home India’s second penalty corner to give them a 3-0 lead in the opening quarter.
The usual flow of attacks from the Indians was absent as they were slow to mount their raids and though Chinglensana Singh and Ramandeep Singh made the scoreline 5-0, it appeared as if the Indian had left their aggressive streak in their hotel rooms when the need of the hour was to put it on display on the pitch.
Sri Lanka – playing in the Asian Games after a hiatus of 36 years – grew in confidence as the match wore and kept things tight in the third quarter as they allowed held that quarter goalless before Rupinder made it 6-0 scoring his second of the day at the stroke of the third quarter hooter.
Rupinder completed his hat-trick firing home India’s sixth penalty corner in the fourth quarter before Ramandeep added his second in the closing stages as Sri Lanka walked off the pitch with their heads held high even in a 0-8 loss.
India next play Oman on Tuesday.