On Tuesday, the Indian hockey team defeated France 5-0 in the Men's FIH Pro League 2021-22 opener at the University of Northwest in Potchefstroom, South Africa. India's five goals came from Harmanpreet Singh, Varun Kumar, Samsher Singh, Mandeep Singh, and Akashdeep Singh.
India is now ranked second in the FIH Pro League 2021-22 points table. With two victories in as many games, England is in the first place. Manpreet Singh and his teammates got off to a flying start against the world No. 13 French team, which India had beaten in both of their previous encounters.
India won the game's first penalty corner at the nine-minute mark, but the French defence and goalie Arthur Thieffry handled the threat and the follow-up. Towards the conclusion of the first quarter, France managed to produce a handful of half-chances of their own, but none were severe enough to bother Indian goalkeeper Umang.
In the second quarter, India, the bronze medalists at the Tokyo Olympics and the world No. 3 team, continued to seem the more threatening of the two teams, using a high press to put the French defence on the back foot.
Harmanpreet Singh broke the deadlock with a penalty corner conversion in the 21st minute, capping off a lengthy period of pressure. Harmanpreet scored his 89th international goal.
After falling, the French squad began to show a bit more daring in their pursuit of an equaliser, with Viktor Lockwood causing the Indian backline the greatest issues.
India struck again with just over six minutes remaining in the half, with Arun Kumar burying a superb low drag flick beyond Thieffry from a penalty corner.
The margin had grown to 3-0 after three minutes. The move started with a penalty corner for France, which was their first of the game. India successfully countered the drag-flick with a rapid counterattack, which was finally completed by an unmarked Samsher Singh.
Soon after, India's Akashdeep Singh, who was playing his 200th match for the country, might have made things worse for France, but Thieffry was up to the challenge this time and made sure his team didn't suffer any more harm before the half-time whistle.
However, the save was just temporary as Mandeep Singh thundered in a Manpreet Singh corner to make it 4-0 minutes into the third quarter. In the 41st minute, Akashdeep Singh increased to France's woes by finishing off a well-executed team play.
India gained solid control of the contest after gaining a significant lead.
In the fourth quarter, France made a valiant effort to cut the deficit, but the Indian defence held them off. India had a couple of chances to add to their total, but the score remained at 5-0 till the final whistle.
India's first competitive match of 2022 took place against France, who were making their FIH Pro League debut.
On Wednesday, India will play hosts South Africa at the same location.