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Ians

Dragflicker Gurjit Kaur slammed five goals as the Indian women's hockey team began their campaign on a roaring note, crushing Thailand 13-0 in the Donghae Women's Asian Champions Trophy here on Sunday.

Gurjit gave India the lead in the second minute after an infringement by Thailand in their defensive third prompted the referee to award a penalty stroke. Gurjit, who scored four goals at the Tokyo Olympic Games, smartly put the ball into the back of the nets to give India a 1-0 lead.

The early goal put Thailand on the back foot, and Vandana Katariya, the only Indian women's player to score a hat-trick at the Olympics, slammed the second goal five minutes later.

By the time the first quarter was over, Lilima Minz had added another field goal in the 14th minute, while Gurjit Kaur and Jyoti scored two more from penalty corners in the 14th and 15th minute, giving India a 5-0 lead.

The second quarter started much the same way as India kept most of the possession, giving no room to Thailand to cause any danger. Within the first minute of the second quarter, Rajwinder Kaur, who made her international debut on Sunday, scored a field goal in the 16th minute, and in the 24th minute, Gurjit scored her third goal and Lilima scored another from a PC, also in the 24th minute.

The Indian team demolished the Thai defence as they struck another PC in the 25th minute through Gurjit, thus giving India a 9-0 lead at the end of the second quarter.

Returning from the 10-minute half-time break, India dominated by continuing to make threatening circle penetrations from the left flank. But Thailand dug in deep and defended well for the first six minutes in the third quarter. But Jyoti broke the threshold, scoring another field goal in the 36th minute to exceed India's lead by 10 goals

A defensive error four minutes later from Thailand gave India another PC, but this time Gurjit's powerful flick was deflected by the opposition. A well-constructed move from the middle late in the 43rd minute caught Thailand's defence napping as Sonika struck in her first goal in the match.

The fourth quarter, which was a mere formality by the time it started, saw Navneet Kaur threatening Thailand's defence with deep runs from the right flank. But Thailand's defence managed to keep the danger at bay, preventing any further damage to the scoreline.

In the 55th minute, Monika managed to get her stick on a long pass inside the circle, as she deflected the ball into the back of the nets to exceed India's lead by another goal. Three minutes later, Gurjit Kaur scored her fifth goal from a late penalty corner, adding in the 13th goal for India.

This was the India team's first match since the historic fourth-place finish at the Tokyo Olympics. In the absence of captain Rani Rampal, who has been rested from the tournament, India is being led by veteran goalkeeper Savita.

India's match against Malaysia, scheduled for December 6, will not take place due to Covid-related issues, Asian Hockey Federation said.

India will next play hosts Korea on December 8.

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