INDIA smashed four past South Africa in their opening half as they went on to secure their semi-final berth in the 2014 Commonwealth Games on Thursday with a 5-2 win.
Goals for India came from Raghunath Ramachandra, Rupinder Singh, Ramandeep Singh, Sunil Vitalacharya and Manpreet Singh and were countered by goals from Taine Paton and South Africa’s captain, Austin Smith.
The first half could only be classed as a disaster for South Africa who entered the match knowing that a win would’ve seen them qualify for the cross-over matches.
India, however had other ideas.
Raghunath Ramachandra launched a typically ferocious flick from a penalty corner after just three minutes.
The lead was doubled six minutes later when Rupinder Singh showed he is also no slouch from the top of the circle.
Shell-shocked South Africa looked to capitalise on their attacks through Julian Hykes and Lungile Tsolekile who struggled to find Lloyd Norris-Jones lurking high in the circle.
India’s third came on 22 minutes, from open play this time as Ramandeep Singh finished at the far post.
It took just four minutes more to get the fourth and complete the sub-half hour rout, Sunil Vitalacharya with the finish.
South Africa’s Taine Paton came out after the break a man possessed and seemed intent on retaining parity single-handedly.
He drove down the left baseline, but Sreejesh Parattu got down well to stop the threat.
South Africa’s captain Smith fired a ball into the circle a minute later, and Paten leading toward the ball at pace, used the most deft of touches to divert the ball past the feet of Parattu on 42 minutes.
The African’s earned a penalty corner five minutes later and Smith this time, showed there were dragflick exponents on both teams.
His shot swooshing into the top right corner with considerable purpose.
It seemed like South Africa had kicked into life and the already physical game became increasingly feisty.
In the following ten minutes, one green card and two yellows were shown to South Africa and a yellow shown to India’s Gurwinder Chandi.
On 58 minutes Manpreet Singh slid low to deflect home a fifth for India as the rain began to fall heavily on the vocal crowd.
Clinton Panther and Hykes continued pushing forwards, but several South African build-ups came to nothing through poor touches or mis-placed passes.
In the last six minutes two more yellows were shown, Clinton Panther taking a seat for a stick tackle and joined India’s captain Sardar Singh, sent off for one minute earlier for a dangerous sliding tackle.
Even after the final hooter, the tensions were clearly still present, though India the happy of the two as they left the pitch.
Speaking afterwards, India’s coach Terry Walsh made no effort to hide his displeasure at the umpiring.
He said: “The game has become more and more physical and no one knows where the rules are.”
Of the forthcoming semi-final match against New Zealand, he said: “First we need to get over this and look at what the outcomes are of this.
“I think we can compete very capably with any one in the competition.
“We all know that they [New Zealand] can play, but we have got to think properly when we are under pressure.”
South Africa’s goal-scorer, Taine Paton, said: “We came into this with a couple of men down for starters so we knew it was going to be a tough match because we had not so many rotations to make.
“We aimed to come out firing but seemed to be in a low gear to start with, they had a couple of early penalty corners and scored them.”
On his efforts to get his side back into the game, he said: “It is an Indian team and they are always very vulnerable in these situations.
“I felt them sit back in their energy when they went four-up, so I started to get some energy going and hoped the boys would follow.”