JOHANNESBURG: Drag-flick specialist Sandeep Singh and striker SV Sunil scored two goals each as India dished out a fast-paced and entertaining hockey to beat South Africa 7-4 in the Champions Challenge on Sunday.
Playing a fine, brisk game to match their robust rivals, India capitalised on every scoring opportunity to open a big margin after being levelled at 4-4 until the 55th minute in the Pool A league match.
Sandeep converted two penalty corners in the 14th and 35th minutes, while Saravanjit Singh (29th) and Tushar Khandekar (41st) scored one apiece.
South Africa kept pace with goals coming from Justin Reid-Ross (sixth minute), Marvin Harper (38th), Miguel de Garcia (46th) and Tim Drummond (48th) before India struck a purple patch with three goals in the last 15 minutes.
Sunil, opening up the South African defence wit his fine runs down the right flank, capitalised on a Khandekar pass in the 55th minute and then slammed a rising rebound on a 66th minute penalty corner into the net.
Rupinder Pal Singh made no mistake with a 65th minute penalty stroke as India surprised the rival defence on several occasions and ran away with a well-deserved victory.
The victory gave India four points from two matches, the same as Belgium, who yesterday drew 3-3 with India and beat Poland 7-3 today.
Belgium rode on Tom Boon’s four-goal burst to emerge 7-3 victors over Poland in the Pool A match.
In Pool B action, Pan American champions Argentina rallied with two second-half goals to pull off a 3-2 victory over Canada while Malaysia scored a 69th minute goal to clinch a 2-2 draw with Japan.
Canada, who failed to secure direct entry into the 2012 Olympic Games after losing the Pan American final to Argentina, troubled their traditional rivals no end, and surged to a 2-1 lead at half-time.
Keegan Pereira’s angular shot from top of the box sounded the boards in the 20th minute and Philip Wright scored from a 31st minute raid.
Lucas Hernan Camareri scored for Argentina in the 26th minute.
The Argentine efforts produced more results in the second session when Lucas Vila converted a penalty corner to draw parity four minutes after resumption.
Pedro Ibarra got the match-winner for Argentina in the 54th minute with a low drag-flick that found the target.
Meanwhile, Japan would consider themselves unlucky not to have secured full points from Malaysia in a match they dominated and led from the fifth minute until the 69th before conceding an equaliser.
Hiruki Sakamoto opened the account for Japan with a field goal in the fifth minute and Katsyoshi Nagasawa made it 2-0 four minute later from a penalty corner.
This was Japan’s second consecutive draw, after splitting points with Argentina in their opening outing yesterday.
Malaysia managed to reduce the lead midway through the second half when Tengku Ahmed deflected Amin Rahim’s penalty corner shot past the goalkeeper.
Japan continued to dominate play, but failed to bolster the lead, while Rahim capitalised on a penalty corner in the penultimate minute by beating the goalkeeper with a low flick.