India overcame some uncertainty in the middle of the second half before finishing off South Africa 5-2 and pick up the second place in Group A and make the semifinals of the hockey competition at the Commonwealth Games on Thursday.
Australia topped the pool with maximum 12 points, while India had nine from three wins and a loss against Australia. From Group B, New Zealand, topped the pool ahead of England. The Kiwis had an all-win record, which included a 2-1 win over England.
In their last league match on Thursday, New Zealand thrashed Malaysia 6-1.
In the cross-over semifinal matches, the 2010 silver medallists India will take on New Zealand, while four-time defending champions Australia meet England. The semifinals are scheduled for Saturday.
India began with a purpose and earned their first penalty corner within two minutes and VR Raghunath duly converted to put India on the board at 1-0. However, three minutes later, his second penalty corner shot was saved by South African goalkeeper, Erasmus Pieterse.
The Indian coach began to roll his substitutions within five minutes to keep the players fresh and it paid off as the Indian kept piling on the pressure.
Rupinder, who has been India's top scorer struck with the third penalty corner in the ninth minute and India were 2-0 up. India seemed to be running away with the match as Gurwinder Chandi had a shy in the 16th minute but Pieterse saved it. Four minutes later Ramandeep's attempt was again saved by the goalkeeper, but for whom the South Africans would have been way down.
But Ramandeep was not to be denied as he did strike two minutes later to put India 3-0 up. Four minutes later SV Sunil slammed another field goal making it 4-0 as India were outplaying the South Africans.
Indians went into the break at 4-0.
The South Africans put up a good fight in the second half and in fact gave the Indians a lot of food for thought. Six minutes into the second half, Taine Patton scored the first goal for South Africa to make 1-4.
The Indians stung the reverse went on the offensive and earned a penalty corner, which they wasted. Then in 44th minute, Ramandeep's shot came close to increasing the lead, but it was again saved by Pieterse.
In the very next minute, South Africa got their second goal from Austin Smith to make it 2-4 and the Indians must have felt uncomfortable as their lead was cut by half.
Sunil, once, and then Akashdeep Singh twice, had further attempts, till Manpreet Singh made it 5-2 for India.
Chandi and Sardar Singh, who had also been warned before today's match for improper physical conduct against Eddie Ockenden in the match against Australia two days ago, got themselves a yellow card and also served five minute suspensions.