South Central Railway (SCR), Secunderabad, romped to a 4-3 win against Punjab Police in a Pool-A league match of the 13th PMC Bank-Guru Tegh Bahadur Gold Cup All India Hockey Tournament today.
The southern team finished with an all-win record and topped the pool while Punjab Police, who suffered their first defeat, finished in second place. Both advanced to the last four.
South Central Railway will now take on Pool-B runners-up Army XI in the second semi-final on Monday while Punjab Police will meet Indian Oil in the first semi-final after tomorrow's rest day.
The Secunderabad outfit took the lead from their second penalty corner when full back Gagandeep Singh's drag-flick went in through goalkeeper Harjot Singh's pads in the 19th minute.
However, SCR looked to have lost steam towards the end of the first half and the Punjab policemen cashed in on the situation and pushed forward. They repeatedly raided the rival territory and forced few penalty corners and managed to convert two.
Olympian Dharmvir Singh tapped in the rebound after Harbir Sandhu's try from their third penalty corner was blocked by goalkeeper Sushant Tirkey's pads in the 27th minute to help his team draw level.
Two minutes later, Hardeep Singh - with a direct hit - scored from the fifth penalty corner to give Punjab Police a 2-1 lead.
SCR restored parity immediately on resumption when Syed Niyaz Rahim scored with a rasping drive from the top of the circle in the 38th minute and 10 minutes later Mayank James scored with an angular hit to help SCR regain the lead.
The railwaymen increased the lead with Gagandeep converting another penalty corner in the 62nd minute before the Punjab cops managed to cut the margin when Gurwinder Singh scored from a penalty corner late in the game.
Earlier in a match of no significance Central Railway, after conceding an early goal, managed to turn things around with two strikes from penalty corners in each half to snatch a 2-1 win against MHAL President's XI in a Pool-B encounter.
Mayur Patil put MHAL XI ahead before Central pumped in two goals through Harmeet Singh and Rajendra Pawar to emerge winners.