A clinical first-half performance from India saw them breeze past South Africa by 5-2 margin to qualify for the semi-final of the men’s hockey competition at the 20th Commonwealth Games on Thursday.
Having finished second in the pool behind defending champions Australia, India will now take on New Zealand in the semi-final while the Kookaburras are pitted against England in the other last four clash.
Dragflickers V Raghunath and Rupinderpal Singh were on target in the 4th and 8th minute respectively followed by a 22nd minute strike by Ramandeep Singh to make it 3-0.
SV Sunil (26th minute) played a brilliant one-two with Nikkin Thimmaia before tapping it in to make it 4-0.
Manpreet Singh dived full stretch to meet an Akashdeep Singh cross to round off the tally in the 58th minute.
Having pumped in four goals in the first half which proved to be good enough, India did drop guard after the change of ends conceding a couple of goals in the process.
For the Proteas, Taine Patton (42nd minute) deflected one in through a quick counter while Austin Smith was on target in the 46th minute with a successful drag-flick conversion.
India would have got through to the semi-finals even with a draw but Sardar Singh and his boys showed a lot of positive intent during the first 35 minutes in which they clinched a last four berth.
There were three penalty corners earned in the first eight minutes of play when the Indians repeatedly raided the opposition attacking third.
With two successful conversions, the match started in right earnest for Terry Walsh’s wards.
Nikkin and SV Sunil played well upfront with a lot of support from Gurwinder Singh Chandi and Manpreet Singh.
Although Gurbaaz Singh looked a bit off-colour, skipper Sardar controlled the midfield proceedings to ward off any challenge from the opposition.
The only problem that India faced was the lack of numerical advantage when the rival team hit back on counters.
Both Raghunath and Rupinderpal have a tendency of not falling back after having gone on the overlap.
This led to the freak first goal from the South Africans when Patton just flicked a long pass which was sent down the middle without any intervention from the Indian defensive third.
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