India's hopes of booking a berth in next year's Champions Trophy were shattered as they went down fighting to arch rivals Pakistan 3-6 in a thrilling semifinal encounter of the Champions Challenge I hockey tournament in Salta.
In-form India, who were Group A toppers with an unbeaten record, failed to find the bearings at the last four match. They dominated for most part of the match but failed to convert the chances that came their way.
As is often happened in Indian hockey team, the opponents scored from the few chances they got and Pakistan were 3-1 up at the end of half time.
The match was the usual classic exhibition of hockey artistry which is the case when the two sides clash but that was of no use for India.
India now face Argentina for the third-place play-off. Pakistan play New Zealand in the summit clash and winner will qualify for the 2010 Champions Trophy in Monchengladbach, Germany.
New Zealand had beaten Argentina 3-2 in the other semifinal.
All the Indian goals came from penalty corners through Dhananjay Mahadik (eighth and 62nd minutes) and Diwakar Ram (67th minute).
For Pakistan, Rehan Butt (2nd, 29th and 64th) scored a hat-trick of field goals while Sohail Abbas (32nd, 70th) found the target twice and Haseem Khan (58th) got one.