Santiago, Mar 4: India maintained their goal-scoring spree and hammered Mexico 18-1 for their third consecutive victory in the World Hockey men's Olympic qualifying tournament at the Prince of Wales Country Club in Santiago, Chile, on Tuesday.
Mexico showed early promise when they forced three penalty-corners in the first five minutes, but the Indians kept their composure and hit back with a vengeance.
Rajpal Singh and Prabhjot Singh did the star turn for India, scoring six and four goals respectively, including a hat-trick apiece.
Drag-flick specialist V Ramachandra Raghunath, who doubled up as a forward, struck four, three of them from penalty-corners, while Shivendra Singh (2), Tushar Khandekar (1) and Sardara Singh (1) rounded off the scoring for India, who led 8-0 at the break.
The Mexicans drew some consolation from their only goal that came on the stroke of full-time, when Pol Moreno scrambled the ball home following a mix up in the Indian defence.
In the day's other matches, Great Britain beat Chile 4-1 while Austria overcame Russia 5-4.
While India, who had beaten Russia 8-0 and Austria 7-3, thus have nine points, Mexico, beaten 11-0 by Great Britain and 4-0 by Chile, are virtually out of contention for the lone Olympic spot available from this tournament.
"Our aim today was to get into a rhythm and score as many goals as possible so that our forwards would maintain their form. More than the number of goals, I was pleased with the manner in which some of them were struck," said chief coach Joaquim Carvalho.
India were also keen on creating penalty-corners so as to provide Raghunath opportunities to get going with his drag-flicks.
"Raghunath did not get to play for long periods in the previous two games and so, we wanted to create opportunities for him. In the end, I thought he came up with a few quality conversions," Carvalho explained.
India, in fact, received 10 penalty-corners, of which three were converted, a couple of them were placed wide and the Mexican goalkeeper brought off a few good saves.
Carvalho asserted that not much should be read into the three penalty-corners early in the match and also the goal that Mexico scored in the last minute.
"When you are up against a weak team, you tend to lapse in concentration. The Mexicans did surprise us early on, but once we settled down, it was a different story. In the end, we dropped our guard when leading 18-0 and it led to us conceding a goal. But I will not attach much significance to these blemishes, since in a tough match we will be on top of our game," he opined.
Mexico's lady coach, Edith Ramirez, admitted that her team was totally outclassed.
"We all know how good this Indian team is. Yet, we attacked in the beginning and forced a few penalty-corners in the first five minutes. But we have not trained enough to convert our chances as the team got together only in January," she said.
The Mexicans put up a game fight, but with Indians scoring at regular intervals, it was not long before their shoulders dropped and the defence simply caved in.
"It is difficult to keep yourself motivated after conceding 10 goals. We tried hard, but then, the Indian team was just too good for us. I think, the difference in standards was very obvious today," she added.