India beat Chinese Taipei 5-0 in the Intercontinental Cup opener at the Mumbai Football Arena, on Friday evening. Skipper Sunil Chettri (14', 34', 62') netted thrice while Udanta Singh (48') and Pronay Halder (78') also registered their name on the score-sheet.
Hosts India lined up in a 4-2-3-1 shape. The Blue Tigers featured a handful of new faces as Pronay Halder and Anirudh Thapa formed the double pivot, while Subashish Bose became the latest player to be handed a debut by coach Stephen Constantine.
The team got off to an entertaining start as Jeje Lalpekhlua kick started the attack from the middle. Charging from the right, winger Udanta Singh squared the ball for skipper Chhetri but the latter's attempt went wide off the goal.
In the 14th minute, Chhetri eventually bagged the goal as India grabbed an early lead. A through ball from Chennaiyin FC striker Jeje saw the Indian skipper get to the end of it, and slot it past Chinese Taipei's Wen-Chieh.
Six minutes later, the Bengaluru FC captain had an opportunity to double the lead but his strike went off target after Jeje fed him the delivery inside the 18-yard-box.
At the half hour mark, Chinese Taipei's Chao-An released a shot from distance but defender Sandesh Jhingan blocked the delivery.
India then secured the second goal as the duo of Chhetri and Jeje stepped up again. Chennaiyin boys Thapa and Jeje combined at the edge of the box before releasing a through ball for Chhetri, who converted from a narrow angle.
At the break, India walked off with a two-goal lead, thanks to Chhetri's dual strikes.
In the 48th minute, India put up a third goal, courtesy of Udanta's lovely footwork inside the box. Getting the better of his marker, Udanta slotted beyond the reach of the visiting side's custodian.
A minute into the hour mark, Chhetri completed his hattrick of strikes as Thapa sent a through ball for the skipper inside the box, after taking a short corner. Aiming for the top corner, Chhetri added another goal to India's account.
Pronay Halder, who had a wonderful time on the field, sealed off the game with a belter of a strike in the 78th minute. From the left side of the box, Halder released a thunderbolt which thumped into the net and thereby also ensured three points for Constantine and co.
India will next face Kenya on June 4 in their second fixture of the four-nation tournament.