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India Outclass Pakistan 7-4 To Book Semifinal Berth

 New Delhi, Oct 10: Star drag-flicker Sandeep Singh and Shivendra Singh scored a double each as India thrashed Pakistan 7-4 in a must-win Pool A match to storm into the semifinals of the men's hockey
PTI October 10, 2010 22:17 IST
 New Delhi, Oct 10: Star drag-flicker Sandeep Singh and Shivendra Singh scored a double each as India thrashed Pakistan 7-4 in a must-win Pool A match to storm into the semifinals of the men's hockey event in the Commonwealth Games at a packed Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium here today.

Under pressure to perform or face the ignominy of ouster from the medal round, India stood up and delivered when it mattered most. They did not disappoint the capacity crowd in the high-voltage encounter and completely dominated Pakistan in the first 30 minutes of the match by pumping in as many as four goals.

 Drag-flicker Sandeep (3rd, 11th minute) was the star performer for the hosts converting two penalty corners and then setting up another for Shivendra (19th, 59th).

Unlike other days, Sandeep was exemplary in defence too, coming to India's rescue on numerous occasions.

Sarwanjit Singh (20th), Danish Mujataba (41st) and Dharamvir Singh (45th) too chipped in with a goal each in the high-scoring electrifying encounter.

For Pakistan, Muhammad Imran scored from a penalty stroke while Muhammad Rizwan (29th) and Shakeel Abbasi (68th) reduced the margin through field strikes. Muhammad Irfan (58th) too registered his name in the scoresheet, scoring from a penalty corner.

India will now take on Pool B toppers England in the semifinals on Tuesday while world champions Australia will face New Zealand in the other last-four match.

Pakistan, meanwhile, will face South Africa for the fifth-sixth classification match on Tuesday.

Against Pakistan today, India displayed a fast-paced hockey from the onset, with their mid-field and forward line combining well to set up the goals.

Indian completely dominated the game and never gave a slightest of chance to Pakistan to recover.

Pakistan had their share of chances but India's juggernaut proved too much for the Zeeshan Ashraf-led side.

India's domination can be gauged from the fact that they earned 11 penalty corners.

India's hard work paid dividends early in the third minute of the match when Sandeep scored with a fierce flick, from his side's first short corner.

Thereafter, India earned as many as four penalty corners in a span of five minutes out of which Sandeep converted one to double his as well as the home team's tally.
Pakistan got their first real scoring chance of the match in the 14th minute from their first penalty corner, only to be denied by a brilliant Bharat Chetri under the Indian goal, who did enough to deflect the ball over the bar.

 An unmarked Shivendra then made it 3-0 for the home team in the 19th minute when he calmly directed the ball into the Pakistani goal after receiving a super cross from Sandeep from the midfield.

As if that was not enough, the Indians drove in another in the next minute through an opportunistic Sarwanjit, who pushed in the ball after Sandeep's flick, from a short corner, met his stick following a deflection from a Pakistani defender.

Pakistan, however, pulled two back within a span of two minutes. First Imran scored from a penalty stroke in the 27th minute and then Rizwan deflected home from a Muhammad Irfan cross from the right flank to go into the breather trailing 2-4.

India came out with same intensity in the second half and got three back-to-back penalty corners. From one such opportunity, the home team increased their lead in the 41st minute when Mujtaba scored from a rebound after Sandeep's flick was initially stopped by a Pakistani defender.

 Four minutes later Dharamvir, who scored a brace against Scotland in the last match, virtually took the match out of Pakistan's hand when he tapped in India's sixth goal after receiving a pass from Shivendra.

Pakistan, however, did not give up and made it 6-3 in the 58th minute through Irfam, who scored from a goalmouth melee after a set piece was saved by the Indians.

To the delight of the packed Sunday crowd, goals rained at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium today as India restored their lead in the next minute through Shivendra, who got a solo from the right side of the goal mouth and made no mistake in driving the ball home.

Just two minutes from the hooter, veteran Shakeel Abbasi scored Pakistan's fourth goal after wrong footing a defender and Indian custodian Chhetri but it was too little, too late for the visitors. PTI