Ipoh (Malaysia), May 6: Rookie drag-flicker Rupinder Pal Singh fired in a hat-trick as India made amends of their first match loss with a convincing 3-1 victory over Britain in the Azlan Shah hockey tournament here today.
Young Rupinder, who was included in the squad due to the absence of penalty corner specialist Sandeep Singh, struck in the 10th, 54th and 57th minutes to give depending champions India the upper hand against a strong Britain who had come here with a nearly full-strength side.
With the win today, India, who had come here without at least half a dozen senior players, bounced back into the tournament in style after going down to South Korea 2-3 in their campaign opener.
India junior team regular member Rupinder, who had featured in a few internationals with the senior side last year, sent three low drag-flicks to sound the board of the opposition goal.
India, who dominated the midfield, converted three of the five penalty corners they earned in the match and led 3-0 before Britain pulled one goal back through James Tindall in the 62nd minute.
Britain, who are fine-tuning their team for next year's Olympic Games at home, had defeated Malaysia 3-1 yesterday.
After a couple of initial forays into rival territories by both teams, Rupinder opened the scoring for India in the 10th minute with a grounder that surprised Britain goalkeeper James Fair to sound the board.
At the other end, Indian goalkeeper Bharat Chhetri padded away three penalty corner shots as the defenders rushed out to narrow the angle for the British strikers.
Just before the breather, Indian striker Roshan Minz broke into the rival circle from the left flank, but found no support from other forwards.
India increased the lead midway through the second session when Rupinder found the mark with a low push into the goal past the outstretched pads of the custodian in the 55th minute.
Two minutes later Rupinder completed his hat-trick, this time directing the drag-flick into the right side of the board as the goalkeeper moved to the other corner in anticipation of the shot.
India then went into the defensive to hold the lead, allowing Britain mid-field space. Britain had a couple of cracks at the Indian citadel.
Tindall found the target in the 62nd minute off a cross from the right. He also got another chance but shot wide past the bewildered Indian goalkeeper.
In the earlier match of the day, Asian Games gold medallists Pakistan asserted their strength by scoring thrice in the final 10 minutes to edge past defending champions South Korea 4-2.
Trailing 1-2 until the 60th minute, Pakistan went all out into the attack to create several openings and succeeded in breaching the Korean defence thrice for their second victory in the tournament.
Pakistan had defeated New Zealand by a similar margin in the tournament-opener yesterday.
Hyun Hye-Sung converted two penalty corners in the 13th and 46th minutes for South Korea, while Rehan Butt scored an opportunistic goal for Pakistan in the 21st minute.
Pakistan's rally began in the 61st minute when penalty corner ace Sohail Abbas scored his first goal of the tournament with a drag flick to restore 2-2 parity.
Abdul Haseem Khan capitalised on the confusion in the Korean defence when he managed to take a second strike in open play after picking up a long diagonal ball in the 63rd minute to put Pakistan in the lead for the first time in the game.
Continuing to assert themselves, Pakistan's strikers opened up a couple of more openings in the last two minutes and Waqas Akbar picked up Muhammad Zubair's pass to sound the boards with eight seconds to go for the hooter. PTI