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Hockey: India start Junior World Cup campaign with 5-1 win over Wales

The Indian women's hockey team started its campaign in the FIH Junior World Cup on a resounding note, beating Wales 5-1 in its opening pool match in Potchefstroom on Saturday.

The Indians scored through field efforts from Lalremsiami (4th minute), Lalrindiki (32nd) and Mumtaz Khan (41st) before Lalrindiki (57th) and Deepika (58th) converted two late penalty corners. Wales' lone goal was scored by Millie Holme in the 26th minute from a field strike.

The Indians started on a bright note and secured an early penalty corner but Deepika's drag-flick was saved by the Welsh goalkeeper. But India were not to be denied for long as they took the lead in the fourth minute when Lalremsiami deflected in Sangita Kumari's shot towards the goal.

Wales also tested the Indian defence early on but failed to get past goalkeeper Bichu Devi. Wales drew parity in the second quarter through Holme as both the teams went into the halfway break at 1-1.

Wales started aggressively after the change of ends but it was India who restored their lead two minutes into the third quarter through a field goal by Lalrindiki. The Indians kept up the pressure and extended their lead in the 41st minute through another field strike from Mumtaz.

From there on the Indians completely dominated the proceedings as the Wales defence found it difficult to stop their rivals' consistent forays. India skipper Salima Tete was brilliant in creating chances for her side with her dribbling skills and sideways runs. Tete secured a few penalty corners for India in the fourth quarter but the opportunities went in vain.

With three minutes left on the clock, Deepika earned a penalty corner and Larindiki was at the right place to score from a rebound and make it 4-1 in favour of India. A minute later, it was Larindiki's turn to secure another penalty corner for India and Deepika executed her job perfectly to place her dragflcik to the left of the Wales custodian.

India will play formidable Germany on Sunday in their second Pool D match and then take on Malaysia in the final pool match before the quarterfinal round which starts on April 8.

The quadrennial tournament, which was originally scheduled for last December, was postponed due to the threat posed by the omicron variant of COVID-19. India, who have appeared in four editions of the junior global event, claimed their best finish in 2013 with a bronze. The team did not qualify for the last edition of the tournament.