The Indian men’s hockey team won their fourth and final Pool A game 5-2 against South Africa Thursday to qualify for the Commonwealth Games semi-finals where they will take on New Zealand at the Glasgow National Hockey Centre here Saturday.
India needed to at least draw the contest to have any chance of qualifying for the last four and they did it in style by thrashing the Africans, for whom it was a must-win contest.
India finished second in Pool A with three wins out of four matches behind defending champions Australia, who won all four matches to top the group. In the other semi-final Saturday, World No.1 Australia will take on England.
India got into business right at the start to earn their first penalty corner in the third minute. Drag-flicker V.R. Raghunath made no mistake in converting the opportunity to open the account for the 2010 silver medallists.
India earned another penalty corner in the next minute but this time it was saved by agile South African goalkeeper Erasmus Pieterse.
World No.9 India kept the pressure on and in the ninth minute Rupinder Pal Singh was successful in converting another penalty corner to make it 2-0.
Ramandeep Singh then extended the lead to 3-0 in the 22nd minute by scoring a field goal. Four minutes later India scored another through forward S.V. to put India 4-0 in the lead.
South Africa came out in a different gear in the second half and finally in the 42nd minute registered their first goal which came from the stick of Taine Paton. They scored once again in the 47th minute through captain Austin Smith’s penalty corner flick.
But India had the last laugh when in the 58th minute Manpreet Singh’s diving goal helped India take the score to 5-2.