Drag-flicker Dhananjay Mahadik scored a hat-trick as defending champions India crushed Egypt 7-1 to enter the final of the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament here today.
Mahadik (34th, 40th, 42nd minute), skipper Rajpal Singh (44th), Rupinder Pal Singh (48th), Tushar Khandekar (49th), Sarvanjit Singh (70th) scored for India in what was a must-win match, while Abd El Hakim Ahmed (68th) was the lone Egyptian goal-getter.
India will take on Korea in the summit clash tomorrow.
India had earlier made six appearances in the final of the tournament and ended on the victorious side on four occasions in 1985, 1991, 1995 and 2009. They had lost to Argentina in the 2008 title clash by a golden goal.
Contrary to the result, India were made to struggle in the first half by the Egyptians and were denied the lead till the 34th minute when Mahadik flicked from their sixth penalty corner.
Though the Indian forwards attacked relentlessly from the start, initially they found the Egyptian defence like a wall, especially goalkeeper Mabrouk Mohamed.
Indian forwardline comprising Shivendra Singh, Rajpal, Mandeep Antil and Tushar were ably supported up by Gurbaj Singh, Arjun Halappa, Vikas Pillay and Ravi Pal Singh in the midfield but Mahadik’s goal was what they could manage in the first half.
However, Mahadik’s goal seemed to have opened floodgates for the Indians, who went on the rampage after the change of end.
Mahadik struck again with ease in the 40th and 42nd minutes after Halappa and Shivendra won India short corners.
Skipper Rajpal joined the party in the 44th minute, scoring from a Bharat Chikara pass.
Young Faridkot drag-flicker Rupinder Pal Singh then scored his first goal for the senior team when he beat Mabrouk to his left in the 48th minute from India’s tenth penalty corner.
The goal was followed by Khandker finding the mark in the next minute after combining with Rajpal.
Egypt, however, pulled one back against the run of the mill in the 68th minute through Abd El Hakim Ahmed.
But Sarvanjit Singh completed India’s tally just seconds from the hooter when he pushed home after the Egyptian custodian was caught on the wrong foot.