Sanjay Kumar, Araijeet Singh Hundal and Sudeep Chirmako scored a brace each as defending champions India trounced Poland 8-2 to qualify for the quarterfinals of the FIH Men’s Junior Hockey World Cup on Saturday. After scoring hat-tricks in the first two games, vice-captain Sanjay (4th, 58th) continued his goal-scoring spree for India while Hundal (8th, 60th), who scored a hat-trick against Canada, too registered his name on the scoresheet. Chirmako (24th, 40th) also contributed in team’s win while Uttam Singh (34th) and Shardanand Tiwari (38th) were the other goal scorers for the hosts in the Pool B game.
Poland scored both their goals in the fourth and final quarter through Wojciech Rutkowski (50th) and Robert Pawlak (54th). India will now face last edition’s runners-up Belgium in the quarterfinal on December 1.
Belgium topped Pool A ahead of Malaysia on goal difference after both the finished on seven points each. After a shock 4-5 defeat against France in their tournament opener, India thrashed Canada 13-1 in their second pool match to stay alive in the competition.
Up against Poland in a must-win final pool match, the Indians started from where they left against Canada on Thursday and put pressure on the Polish goal from the onset. Their efforts bore fruit as early as in the fourth minute of the match when star dragflicker Sanjay scored his seventh goal of the tournament, yet again from a penalty corner.
The Indians stayed aggressive and four minutes later doubled their lead through another penalty corner, this time from the stick of Hundal. Sudeep trippled India’s lead in the 24th minute through a fine field goal to go into the half time leading 3-0.
Four minutes into the third quarter, Uttam extended India’s lead with another field strike before Tiwari converted a penalty corner in the 38th minute to make it 5-0 in India’s favour. Sudeep once again found himself in thick of things, scoring another field goal in the 40th minute.
Trailing 0-6, Poland came all out attacking in the final quarter. They earned a barrage of penalty corners and in the process found the net twice to reduce the margin. But India finished on a strong note when Sanjay and Hundal scored from field play to register an emphatic win for the hosts.
Meanwhile in other matches of the day, Pakistan beat Egypt 3-1 in Pool D while France topped Pool A with an all-win record spanking Canada 11-1. Malaysia beat South Africa 4-3 to qualify for the quarterfinals as the second-best team from Pool A, while Belgium topped the pool after beating Chile 3-0.
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