James Tindall struck twice to enable England to pull off a surprise 3-2 victory over the tournament favourites Australia on the opening day of the men's World Cup in New Delhi yesterday.
Olympic silver medallists Spain beat South Africa 4-2 and India defeated arch-rivals Pakistan 4-1 in the day's other two pool B matches at the Dhyan Chand National Hockey Stadium.
World number two Australia, who won a record 10th Champions Trophy in December, dominated the first half with speedy forays but failed to convert any of their five penalty corners.
Captain and forward Jamie Dwyer finally put them in the lead through a penalty stroke before Ashley Jackson equalised through a penalty corner after sone solid goalkeeping by England's James Fair.
Tindall the converted a penalty corner and made it 3-1 when following up for an opportunistic goal.
Dwyer cut the lead with four minutes remaining through a penalty corner but England defended well in the final minutes for their first win against their traditional rivals in World Cup since 1975 and only their fifth in 52 meetings.
India's penalty corner specialist Sandeep Singh inspired the hosts to a spectacular victory in the clash between two former powerhouses with two goals, four years after suffering an accidental bullet injury that threatened to scupper his promising career.
Olympic champions Germany begin their campaign for a third straight world title with a pool A match against South Korea.