Chennai: A dominant India roared back to winning ways with a 5-0 mauling of Malaysia in a round-robin fixture of the 2023 Asian Champions Trophy hockey here on Sunday.
Local favourite Karthi Selvam (15th minute) and vice-captain Hardik Singh (32') were on target, along with skipper Harmanpreet Singh (42'), Gurjant Singh (53') and Jugraj Singh (54').
The result took India to the top of the table, helping them inch closer to sealing a semifinals' berth.
India began the first quarter on an attacking note, coming close to penetrating the Malaysian box and creating some very clear scoring chances.
Meanwhile, Malaysia's Fitri Saari was green-carded for a harsh interception in the eighth minute.
With the first quarter coming to a close, Harmanpreet ran towards the Malaysian box unmarked and passed the ball inside to Selvam, who comfortably tapped it in to give the hosts the lead.
At the start of the subsequent quarter, India's Vivek Sagar saw a green card. However, India continued to come up with relentless attacks, including a couple of penalty corners.
The Men in Blue came close again on two instances before the break but failed to make the most of the chances, as the Malaysians displayed some rigid defensive skills to keep it 1-0 at half time.
Following the restart, it did not take long for the Indians to extend their lead.
Just a couple of minutes into the third quarter, it was a penalty corner that midfielder Hardik successfully converted off a rebound after the initial flick from Harmanpreet was parried away by the goalie.
Malaysia too earned a penalty corner thereafter in the quarter that was successfully converted by Najmi Jazlan. However, the Indians appealed for a video referral and the goal was overturned on the grounds of a dangerous flick, turning the silence of the crowd into cheers.
While Nilakanta Sharma and Prasad were yellow-carded in 33rd and 37th minutes, in the 42nd, India received three consecutive penalties, and the third one was converted by Harmanpreet.
As the action entered the final quarter, both teams upped their ante, but it was India that was dominating possession.
After a couple of corner chances, Gurjant shot in the fourth for the Indians in the 53rd minute, thanks to Hardik's assist for Mandeep Singh, as the latter's shot was deflected for Gurjant to complete the formality.
Despite putting in four, the Men in Blue refused to slow down, as a minute later, Jugraj successfully converted yet another penalty corner to extend their lead.
As the match approached its closing stages, India continued to play with intensity.
India will next be up against defending champions South Korea on Monday, while Malaysia take on Japan.