FIH Series Finals As it Happened: India mauls Russia 10-0 in the opener

Harmanpreet Singh and Akashdeep Singh scored braces as six others got on the scoresheet in a 10-0 rout of Russia in the opening match of the Hockey Series Finals at Bhubaneswar on Thursday.

Reaching the final of the FIH Series Finals will be on India's mind.   -  Hockey India Twitter

Hello and welcome to the LIVE score updates, commentary of the Thursday's FIH Men's Series Finals Pool A match between India and Russia at the Kalinga Stadium, Bhubaneswar.

"Today we have played as a team and have finished well. Feels good to start the tournament like this and we will approach the next match against Poland in a similar way"

- Indian captain Manpreet Singh

60' FULL-TIME: INDIA 10- RUSSIA

A dominating start to the tournament by the home team which looked a bit rusty in the opening quarter despite Nilakanta Sharma's opening goal. However, it has been a one-way traffic from the 16th minute. Graham Reid's men have also been superb with their penalty corner conversion scoring four goals from six PCs.

59' Manpreet Singh loses the ball on the right, but the Indians wouldn't mind. This has been a show of authority from the host and send out out a warning to the other teams in the competition.

57' Alexander Skiperskiy finds himself on the edge of the D but comes under pressure from Hardik Singh and loses the ball to the Indian midfielder.

55' STUNNING GOAL FROM AKASHDEEP! What a way to bring up the double digits. The forward finds himself with acres of space inside the circle as he moves to the left and unleashes a fierce strike as the ball flies into the roof of the net.

54' Akashdeep Singh runs forward with the ball but is unable to find Gursahabjit on the right. Nilakanta Sharma gets on the end of a pass on the right and takes a shot from the tight angle but the goalkeeper makes a timely save.

52' India wins another PC as second battery Amit Rohidas manages to win another corner. The second PC is also taken by Rohidas who clobbers it into the first runner Artem Borisov, who collapses on the pitch. However, the defender looks okay and walks off the pitch.

50' India build from the back as Surender Kumar switches the play to Ramandeep Singh who passes it to Vivek Prasad. However, he hits the sideboarding with his reverse hit.

48' HARMANPREET WITH A SECOND! Same placement and same result for India's chief dragflicker. He puts the ball low to the goalkeeper's right side and it is the ninth goal of the day for India.

48' Vivek Sagar remains indecisive for a moment at the near post and is Ozherelev saves. However he earns a PC for India.

46' Surender Kumar tries to get a cross into the circle from the right but is deflected over the bar by a Russia stick.

- End of Q3 -

45' VIVEK PRASAD SCORES! This is becoming too easy for India. A cutback from the baseline from Varun Kumar leaves the midfielder with an easy tap-in. 

44' Ramandeep and Gursahabjit race away to the goal with just two Russian defenders to beat. Ramandeep goes for the glory and spends too much time to take the shot and loses the ball to Russia.

43' First PC of the match for Russia! Amit Rohidas is unable to get the stick down quickly and gives away the corner. However, Semen Matkovskiy drags his flick over the bar.

42' INDIA 7-0! Sumit Kumar with a dragflick from outside the box which is block by Ozherelev. The ball falls kindly for Akashdeep Singh, who rolls it into the empty net.

39' Ivan Ozherelev replaces Marat Gafarov in the goal as the visitor looks to shore up the goalpost.

37' GURSAHABJIT MAKES IT 6-0! Nilakanta Sharma passes to Simranjeet Singh in the centre, who comes up with a backpass to Gursahabjit Singh who is left with tap-in into the net. Every move from India is just too good for Russia to contain.

33' VARUN KUMAR SCORES! A reverse hit by Ramandeep inside the circle hits a Russian foot and India gets another PC. This time the dragflick is placed in the left-bottom corner.

32' GOAL HARMANPREET! A perfect trap by Vivek Sagar gives Harmanpreet ample time to place his shot in the bottom right corner. Gafarov is able to get a boot to the ball is unable to keep it out of the net.

32' A flowing move sees Surender Kumar switch play to Mandeep Singh on the right who earns a PC for India!

31' Mandeep with the pushback for the second-half!

HALF-TIME: INDIA 3-0 RUSSIA

Despite having no shots on target, Russia has enjoyed a marginally-higher possession at 51% while India was better at creating chances with 7 circle entries to Russia's 4.

End of Q2

30' Russia makes a circle entry but is unable to press the trigger at the right moment. India surges forwards but is unable to get past the packed midfield.

27' It has been a fruitful quarter for India as the passing has been more incisive while the forwards made smart runs into the pockets of space in the wide areas.

24' Gursahibjit Singh fails to trap the ball inside the cricle after a clever exchange of passes from Birendra Lakra and Nilakanta Sharma puts him through to the goal.

22' Another circle entry from the right pushes the Russian defence on the backfoot. Nilakanta earns another short corner, but Varun Kumar's dragflick is straight at the goalkeeper.

21' Nilakanta Sharma creates space outside the circle and tries to find Ramandeep, but the forward is unable to find the end of the pass and Russia has a free hit.

20' AMIT ROHIDAS SCORES! The Odisha native places his dragflick in the bottom right corner of the goal and India is now truly on the offensive.

20' A lung-bursting run on the left by Mandeep Singh earns India its third PC of the match.

19' SIMRANJEET MAKES IT 2-0! Another attack from the left reaches Simranjeet at the far post who squeezes it past Gafarov for his team's second goal. The crowd in Bhubaneswar has found its voice again.

17' That was superb from Simranjeet as dribbles the ball from the byline! He misses out at the final moment after goalkeeper Marat Gafarov blocks his attempt.

16' Simranjeet deflects the ball into the goal but straightaway knew that it came off from the higher end of his stick. He does not even celebrate. India go back to building from the back.

End of Q1

15' Two more chances go begging as goalscorer Nilakanta Sharma has two more shots on the goal. Gurinder Singh should've done better in the final moments of the quarter.

13' GOAL INDIA! Nilakanta Sharma opens the scoring off a move which resembles a training drill. Simranjeet Singh gets the ball in the centre and takes a shot at the far post. Nilakanta on the right just helps it along into the net.

12' Another chance for Russia! The midfield went to sleep as Russia pounces on the opportunity again. But Surender Kumar makes a last ditch tackle to deny the visitor a goal.

10' RUSSIA GOES CLOSE! A run in through the middle by Sergey Lepeskhin leaves him with just the goalkeeper to beat but the forward was unable to make the connection.

9' India is camped in the Russian half now. The circle entries are aplenty but the host needs to find the killer pass to open the scoring. Simranjeet and co need to put in more effort.

7' Simranjeet Singh dribbles past two defenders but is unable to put Mandeep through to the goal.

6' Local boy Amit Rohidas wins a free hit on the right but ends up giving the ball away to Russia. The visitor looks to enter the Indian fourth from the left, but Birendra Lakra with a timely intervention.

3' OFF THE POST! Harmanpreet Singh's dragflick was heading towards the roof of the net but agonisingly bounces off the crossbar.

3' PC for India! India is dominating the possession and Gurinder Singh's cross-field pass form the right helps Mandeep Singh win a corner.

2' India makes the first circle entry as Mandeep Singh skips past the defender on the left and cuts one back to Nilakanta Sharma who shoots. However, the Russia custodian keeps it out.

1' HERE WE GO! Russia begins the proceedings from right to left.

The teams are on the pitch for the national anthems at the Kalinga Stadium. The 15,000 capacity crowd roars as the players walk out. The hockey match comes as a welcome change for the city of Bhubaneswar and state of Odisha, ravaged by Cyclone Fani in May. The match also marks the 250th international cap for Indian captain Mandeep Singh.

 

Just few more minutes to pushback....

- Here is the starting XI

 

- Poland thrashed Uzbekistan 4-0 in the second Pool A encounter on the opening day, courtesy braces from Pawel Bratkowski (5', 36') and Mateusz Hulboj (27',40').

- Christian de Angelis (47') and Paul Singh (57') scored as World No 25 USA beat higher-ranked world no 16 South Africa 2-0 in the opening match.

- After losing out on an automatic qualification spot at the Asian Games 2018, India now has a long road to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. As India embarks on the journey to the Tokyo 2020, check out what it needs to do to qualify for the Olympics.

- Despite being the top-ranked team in the FIH Series Finals, Bhubaneswar, at fifth, India cannot take it easily against the lower-ranked teams as the unfamiliarity of the minnows might be its Achilles heel.

Read the match preview | India faces new challenge against unpredictable Russia