Pakistan crushed India's hopes of qualifying for the elite Champions Trophy hockey with an emphatic 6-3 victory in the semi-finals of the Champions Challenge in Salta on Saturday.
For Pakistan, Rehan Butt scored a hat-trick (2nd minute, 29th, 64th), Sohail Abbas struck twice (32 and 70) and Haseem Khan slotted one in the 58th minute. India scored through Dhananjay Mahadik (8th, 62nd) and Diwakar Ram (67).
Pakistan will now clash with New Zealand in the final and for a berth in the 2010 Champions Trophy in Monchengladbach, Germany. New Zealand defeated Argentina 3-2 in the other semifinal.
As often between India and Pakistan, the two teams played attacking hockey with the players showing off their individual flair. India had lost the last time the two teams met in Asia Cup in Kuantan earlier this year.
India could not cash in on the opportunities while Pakistan sneaked in with two goals on counterattack. Pakistan went into the break with a 3-1 lead and a flurry of goals came in the final minutes when both teams stepped up the attack.
Butt opened the scoring within two minutes of play, sounding the board with a seemingly harmless shot.
Less than two minutes later, Prabhjot Singh and Muhammad Irfan were sent off with yellow cards. With another Pakistani player shown a green card, India forced a penalty corner and Dhananjay did not miss the opportunity to equalise.
India had the momentum and Salman Akbar in the Pakistani goal faced a barrage of shots after some spectacular moves.
Indian goalkeeper Adrian D'souza made up for his initial mistake by stopping Butt at the top of the circle, but there was little he could do on a phenomenal shot by Butt in the 29th minute. Sohail Abbas added to the tally with a penalty corner strike and things suddenly looked bright for Pakistan.
India seemed a bit dispirited for a while at the beginning of the second period before stepping up the attack. Excellent work by Rajpal on the back line earned them a penalty corner but they could not convert.
With time running out, India went out all-attacking, exposing in the process their defence and Haseem took advantage to score a goal that gave Pakistan a 4-1 lead. The dying moments saw four goals in eight minute. First Dhananjay converted a penalty corner and then Butt completed his hattrick of field goals. Diwakar scored through another penalty corner and Sohail slotted home a penalty stroke after his last penalty-corner was stopped illegally.
India will now face Argentina in the classification round.