NEW DELHI: Sandeep Singh and Shivendra Singh struck two goal apiece and inspired India to a 7-4 win over archrival Pakistan on Sunday that secured the hosts a spot in the Commonwealth Games field hockey semifinals.
India will take on England in the semifinals on Tuesday, while defending champion Australia faces trans-Tasman rival New Zealand.
Singh converted two short corners and also set up Shivendra Singh to deflect the third goal inside the first 20 minutes.
Shivendra made it 7-3 when he rammed in off captain Raj Pal Singh’s timely pass in the second half before Shakeel Abbasi reduced the margin for Pakistan.
Indian National Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul, who sat in the general stand, were among the 19,000 strong home team supporters at the MDC Stadium to cheer for the home team.
Pakistan scored through Mohammad Imran’s penalty stroke and field goals from Mohammad Rizwan and Rehan Butt.
Pakistan, which won silver at Melbourne in 2006, ended up with six points and will now play for fifth place against South Africa.
Earlier, James Tindall scored in the 66th minute to help European champion England to a 2-1 win over South Africa and gained top spot in Pool B.
In a dramatic last match of Pool B, New Zealand rallied to salvage a 1-1 draw against Canada while three-time gold medalist Australia remained unbeaten and rounded off the group stage with a 7-0 win over Malaysia.
The only blot in Australia’s otherwise powerful victory came early when veteran Jamie Dwyer hit the crossbar off a sixth-minute penalty stroke.
Luke Doerner notched a hat-trick off powerful penalty corner drag flicks for the world champion.
The Canadians surprised New Zealand, holding the lead via Sukhwinder Singh’s field goal for the bulk of the match until Hayden Shaw converted a short corner just two minutes before full time.
”It was pre-planned. I knew if I dodged the stick I’d have a free shot on goal, and I took my chance,” Shaw said of his drag flick. Singh was disappointed that Canada couldn’t go through to the semifinals.
”It’s really hard to say where it went wrong,” he said.
In a desperate move to get the equalizer New Zealand, which finished the group stage with seven points, even substituted goalkeeper Kyle Pontifex with striker Stephen Jenness with three minutes to go.
”I think it’s the first time we’ve ever done that. I don’t even know if he (extra attacker) touched the ball,” said Andrew Hayward. ”We had to get a goal. It didn’t matter if we lost 2-0.”
Pontinfex immediately returned to guard the goal as soon as Hayden got the equalizer.
Earlier, England’s unmarked Tindall broke through the left flank and deftly placed the ball over the charging South Africa goalkeeper Eramus Pieterse for the match winner.
Striker Ashley Jackson shot England ahead in the eighth minute with skillful dribbling when he combined with captain Barry Middleton and pierced the defense to scored off a narrow angle. South Africa equalized in the 45th through Taine Paton before its defense fell into Tindall’s trap.
”We were never prepared for a draw and we always wanted to win the game,” Tindall said.
England’s Richard Mantell said the team played cautiously in the intense heat to conserve energy for Tuesday’s semis.
”We had to be more conservative and it came down to who was best on the ball in the crucial moments.” -AP