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A hat-trick by penalty-corner specialist Sandeep Singh was the highlight of India's 4-1 victory over Egypt in their opening pool D league match of the Rabobank men's Junior World Cup hockey [Images] tournament, in Rotterdam on Wednesday.
Sandeep came up with solid conversions in the fifth, 26th and 56th minutes while V Raja found the board from a goalmouth melee in the 60th.
Egypt marked their presence with a 56th minute strike by Mahmoud Elbadry from a penalty- corner.
In other matches of the day, Australia beat Chile 12-0, Korea beat Mexico 11-0, Pakistan beat Belgium 2-1, Spain beat England [Images] 1-0
India's first-half performance was decidedly lackadaisical. Apart from the two penalty-corner conversions by Sandeep Singh, they made little impression. It was just as well that Egypt did not have it in them to apply more pressure than they did, though their defence was fairly well-organised.
The Indians enjoyed a distinctly better second-half during which they displayed cohesion and understanding to repeatedly trouble Egypt. But, then, the forwards fumbled in front of the goal and the missed chances pegged the scoreline.
Egypt, on their part, played their hearts out, but it was obvious that they were out of depth against a team that was brimming with talent and experience. Even then, the Egyptians excelled individually and with a bit of combination, they could have troubled the Indians far more than they did.
To an extent, the Indians appeared over-confident and it led to an Egyptian counter-attack that resulted in a penalty-corner goal.
Coach Harendra Singh said: "It was a hard, physical game, but I am satisfied with our performance and the margin of victory. Sandeep Singh was outstanding with his conversions, but could have scored more."
He had a word of praise for midfielder Dhananjay Mahadik, playing in his first international outing for India. Further, Harendra lauded the resilience of forward Tushar Khandekar, who flew to India over the weekend to attend his father's funeral and then rushed back to Rotterdam in time for today's match.
Earlier, Pakistan pulled off a 3-1 win against Belgium in a pool B league match. They scored via Imran (twice) and Arif Muhammad while Mike Dewever reduced the margin for Belgium.
Australia thumped Chile 12-0 and Korea hammered Mexico 11-0 in their respective pool matches.
Australia, playing Chile for the first time, led 7-0 at half-time. They struck at regular intervals through Colin Hennessey (4), Thomas Cleghorn (2), Glenn Turner (2), Jonathan Charlesworth, Iain Davidson, Desmond Abbot and Kiel Brown while Korea, who took time to settle down, led 3-0 at the break and stepped up the pace on resumption.
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