New Delhi: It was rated as a contest between David and Goliath and it turned to be one as favourites India demolished minnows Fiji 16-0 in their opening match of the men's Hockey World League Round 2 at the floodlit Major Dhyan Chand Stadium in Delhi on Monday.
True to their tradition the Fijians started the match with a war cry but it didn't take too long for the Indians to silence the visitors.
The Indians were expected to win big and they didn't disappoint the sparse crowd, scoring goals at will against the hapless Fiji side.
India's domination and Fiji's misery can be gauged from the fact that as many as 10 players of the home team registered their names in the scoresheet.
Vice-captain VR Raghunath (4th minute, 11th, 41st) and Danish Mujtaba (28th, 38th, 59th) scored a hat-trick each for India, while Rupinder Pal Singh (5th, 35th) and debutant Malak Singh (51st, 63rd) scored two goals.
Nithin Thimmaih (18th), another debutant Gurjinder Singh (21st), Kothajit Singh (46th), Manpreet Singh (50th), Chinglesana Singh (53rd) and Dharamvir Singh (55th) also scored a goal each for the hosts.
The fancied Indians toyed with the Fiji defence from the word go with numerous raids, resulting in as many as seven goals in the first half and nine after the change of ends.
It took the hosts only four minutes to break the deadlock when Raghunath converted India's first penalty corner before Rupinder made it 2-0 a minute later, converting another set piece.
Raghunath was yet again in the thick of things when he converted another penalty corner in 11th minute to triple India's lead.
Seven minutes later, Thimmaiah scored a field goal before rival World Series Hockey-returned Gurjinder converted a penalty corner in the 21st to make the scoreline 5-0.
Danish scored from a field effort seven minutes later before Rupinder converted another penalty corner to see India go into the breather with a comfortable 7-0 lead.
The proceedings were no different after the breather as the Indians continued their goal-scoring spree with nine more strikes into the rival citadel -- eight of which came through field efforts while the other was scored by Raghunath from a short corner to register his hat-trick.
The Fijians did manage to earn a penalty corner just four minutes from the hooter but they lacked the skill to execute the set piece.
After a rest day on Tuesday, India will play Oman in their second round-robin game on Wednesday.
Debutants Malak Singh and Gurjinder were awarded one lakh each by Hockey India for scoring goals in their maiden outing for the national team.
Meanwhile, in the earlier matches of the men's competition, China defeated Oman 4-0 while Ireland beat Bangladesh 5-2.
The Hockey World League is a qualifying event for next year's FIH World Cup to be held in Hague, The Netherlands.
India captain Sardar Singh said they achieved what they had planned to gain from the encounter.
"Our target was to play simple hockey and we stuck to that. It is always good to start a tournament with a big win," he said.
India's chief coach Michael Nobbs too was pleased with his wards performance.
"Fiji is not that bad, they have skillful players but we played very well," he said.
Asked about the presence of three drag-flickers in the team in Raghunath, Rupinder and Gurjinder, Nobbs said: "There is a healthy competition among the drag-flickers and all are performing well."