Rajpal's hat-trick helps India win tour opener

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='http://www.ndtv.com/convergence/images/thumbnail/ver1/h/hockey3.jpg' class='caption'> The Indian hockey team drubbing a combined Queensland and New South Wales state team 8-1 in the opening encounter.

Updated: February 14, 2009 14:24 IST
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The Indian hockey team started its tour of Australia and New Zealand on a convincing note, drubbing a combined Queensland and New South Wales state team 8-1 in the opening encounter, thanks to winger Rajpal Singh's brilliant hattrick, here on Saturday.

Rajpal, who scored four goals, drew first blood in the fifth minute when he received a pass from Shivendra Singh in the striking circle and beat opponent goalkeeper Lambert with a powerful shot.

India, who braved high humidity and rain during the match, extended the lead three minutes later as Shivendra Singh found the target following a fine move down the left flank.

Shivendra was once again on target in the 12th minute to swell the margin.

Indian forwards used both the flanks with precision and left the opponent clueless throughout the proceedings. Rajpal produced two more goals in 16th and 31st minutes as the visitors went to the interval with 5-0 lead.

The Australian combined side, led by Dean Butler and consisting renowned international players Brent Livermore and Stephen Lambert, failed to thwart India's frequent raids.

The visitors tightened the noose over their opponents as Rajpal completed his hat-trick in the 43rd minute.

After the change of ends, India's coach-in-charge Harendra Singh replaced drag-flicker Sandeep Singh with Raghunath, who converted India's only penalty corner in the 50th minute.

The Indian rampage went unhindered as striker Hari Prasad rounded off the tally seven minutes later.

The Queensland-New South Wales combine managed a consolation goal through Ian Patterson in the 62nd minute.

Harendra later expressed happiness with the result and said he is satisfied with the way team was adapting to the conditions.

India will take on another Queensland and New South Wales combine here on Sunday.

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