Skipper Sandeep Singh continued his goal-scoring spree as India pipped Pakistan 2-1 to reach the final of the five-nation Azlan Shah hockey tournament in Ipoh on Saturday.
The in-form Sandeep, leading goal scorer for his side in the tournament, struck twice in the 28th and 60th minutes to seal the win in the do-or-die tie at the Azlan Shah Stadium.
For Pakistan, Mohamed Saqlain reduced the margin in the 50th minute.
With this win, India sealed their place in Sunday’s final with eight points in their kitty.
Sandeep led from the front in the crucial encounter against the traditional rivals, scoring on either side of the break and then ensuring that India does not succumb to their perennial habit of conceding late goals.
After 28 minutes of mid-field scramble by both the sides, India finally took the lead through Sandeep to go into the breather with a 1-0 lead.
Trailing by a goal, Pakistan came out all guns blazing in the second half and made repeated unsuccessful forays into the Indian penalty area before Saqlain drew parity in the 50th minute.
Stung by the reverse, India, who needed a victory to ensure their place in the final, attacked with purpose and regained lead 10 minutes later with Sandeep again founding the cage.
Although Pakistan tried hard for the equaliser in the dying stages of the match, the Indian defence stood firm and ensured that there were no last moments hiccups.