Lille: Indian hockey team's preparations for next month's Olympic Games began on a confident note with a 8-2 route of France in the first of the two friendly matches here on Thursday.
India led 3-2 at the half-time after the home side had taken an early lead. SK Uthappa scored the equaliser with a field goal while Sandeep Singh's penalty corner strike gave India a 2-1 lead. Gurvinder Singh Chandi made it 3-1 but France reduced the margin through a penalty-corner variation just before the interval.
India stepped up the tempo in the second half and added five more goals without reply to reduce the home side to submission in the match played on the conventional green turf and in overcast conditions.
Two minutes after resumption, Shivendra Singh scored a field goal - a deflection off a VR Raghunath attempt - and backed it up with a second strike off a Gurbaj Singh pass within a minute.
Raghunath scored off a penalty corner goal in the 40th minute to put India ahead 6-2. Later, Sarvanjit Singh scored a field goal before Sandeep Singh, playing as centre forward, added another field goal to complete the route.
The second friendly match will be played on blue turf at Le Touquet.
PR Sreejesh, Birendra Lakra, Tushak Khandker and SV Sunil were rested in Thursday's match which saw international debuts for Nitin Thimmiah and Pradhan Somanna.