India defeated Asian Games champion Japan 2-0 to start its marketing campaign on the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament on a tremendous note right here on Saturday. Varun Kumar transformed a penalty nook in the twenty-fourth minute to hand India the lead before Simranjeet Singh (fifty-fifths) scored a diving area purpose from skipper Manpreet Singh’s top-notch bypass to relaxed full three points for the 5-time champion. India will play Korea in its subsequent league recreation on Sunday before taking on host Malaysia (March 26), Canada (March March 27) and Poland (March 29). The top teams from the round robin league degree will play in the final on March 30. After a goalless first region, India slowly took manipulate of the lawsuits. Eight minutes into the second one area, India gained a penalty corner and Varun made no mistake in finding the back of the Japanese purpose with a powerful drag-flick. The Indian midfield manned by way of skipper Manpreet and Kothajit Singh stole the limelight by means of creating numerous scoring possibilities but the forward line became responsible for wasting possibilities. With four mins remaining for the second one hooter, Mandeep Singh missed the target by a whisker after being set up by an amazing pass from Sumit Kumar (junior). In the third zone, Japan secured its first penalty nook inside the 33rd minute however India custodian P.R. Sreejesh did properly to thwart the danger. The following minutes noticed both India and Japan create scoring possibilities however in vain. With mins remaining for the 1/3 hooter, Japanese striker Kenji Kitazato took a courageous shot on intention but neglected the submit by way of a large margin.
Playing in overcast conditions with the temperature hovering around 28 tiers, India endured its hunt for a 2d goal and earned a penalty nook within mins of the fourth region. But this time Varun missed the mark, permitting Japan to launch a quick counter assault, which turned into stored at bay by using Birendra Lakra’s alertness. Japan attempted extraordinary approaches to dislodge India, used complete-press to advantage ball-possession but did now not be successful. Japan eliminated its goalkeeper to feature an extra man within the 55th minute however the flow backfired with India using the opportunity to double its lead. It was a diving attempt by using Simranjeet that positioned India beforehand. With just two minutes remaining, Japan secured any other penalty nook however the strive become nicely-defended by Surender Kumar, sponsored by way of goalkeeper Krishan Pathak, who changed Sreejesh after half of the time.