If the start was anything to go by, India's 5-0 drubbing of China in the opening match of the Asian Champions Trophy seemed at that point of time, a little way off. Both the teams were slow even though India scored in the 5th minute off a Gurwinder Singh Chandi goal. But errors creeped in and India, rightfully so decided to cut the pace and make China sweat for every ball. It paid off as the turning point came in the 21st minute.
India's Minz Roshan (front) tackles the ball with China's Wo Wei. Pic/AFP
China did a compact man-to-man marking making life difficult for the Indian forwards. But in the 21st minute, Rajpal cut in from the right and centred as Xu the Chinese goalkeeper advanced and took the shot on the pads. The rebound went to Yuvraj Walmiki, standing on the edge of the circle. He gave a shoulder dodge as two Chinese defenders went the wrong way and let loose a shot that sped in. India led 2-0 and the confidence was back as the midfield of Ravi Pal, Gurbaz played in tandem to close the gaps and give some lovely through balls. "It's not about the win that matters to me," said Michael Nobbs. "I want them to learn from every outing and that is why we are here."
Rupinder Pal Singh's blazing drag flick almost tore off the net in the 41st minute for the third goal as the Indians marked well and kept possession. On the pitch the coach sat in silence, watching as the team kept the Chinese counter-attacking abilities quiet. It was a credit to the Indian defence that they didn't give away a single penalty corner.
But the goal of the match came in the 43rd minute when Vikas Sharma, a new kid on the block, went past a Chinese defender and gave it to Roshan Minz who cut the ball through the legs of another defender for his captain Rajpal Singh to slide in and deflect it into goal. With their tails up, India scored the fifth in the 62nd minute off a V Raghunath penalty corner drive.