Ace drag-flicker Sandeep Singh and Shivendra Singh scored a double each as India thrashed Pakistan 7-4 in a must-win Pool A match to storm into the semi-finals of the men's hockey event in the Commonwealth Games, at the packed Major Dhyan Chand National stadium, on Sunday.
Under pressure to perform or face the ignominy of ouster from the medal round, India stood up and delivered when it mattered most. They did not disappoint the capacity crowd in the high-voltage encounter and completely dominated Pakistan in the first 30 minutes of the match as they scored as many as four goals.
Drag-flicker Sandeep (3rd, 11th minute) was the star performer, converting two penalty-corners and then setting up another for Shivendra (19th, 59th).
Unlike other days, Sandeep was exemplary in defence too, coming to India's rescue on numerous occasions.
Sarwanjit Singh (20th), Danish Mujataba (41st) and Dharamvir Singh (45th) too chipped in with a goal each in the high-scoring electrifying encounter.
For Pakistan, Muhammad Imran scored from a penalty stroke while Muhammad Rizwan (29th) and Shakeel Abbasi (68th) reduced the margin through field strikes. Muhammad Irfan (58th) too registered his name in the scoresheet, scoring from a penalty-corner.
India will now take on Pool B toppers England in the semi-finals on Tuesday while World champions Australia face New Zealand in the other last-four match.
Pakistan, meanwhile, will face South Africa for the fifth-sixth classification match on Tuesday.
India displayed fast-paced hockey from the outset, with their mid-field and forward line combining well to set up the goals.
Pakistan had their share of chances but India's juggernaut proved too much for the Zeeshan Ashraf-led side.
India's domination can be gauged from the fact that they earned 11 penalty-corners.
India's hard work paid dividends early in the third minute of the match when Sandeep scored with a fierce flick, from his side's first short corner.
Thereafter, India earned as many as four penalty-corners in a span of five minutes out of which Sandeep converted one to double his as well as the home team's tally.
Pakistan got their first real scoring chance of the match in the 14th minute from their first penalty-corner, but were denied by a brilliant Bharat Chetri under the Indian goal who did enough to deflect the ball over the bar.
An unmarked Shivendra then made it 3-0 for the home team in the 19th minute when he calmly directed the ball into the Pakistani goal after receiving a super cross from Sandeep from the midfield.
As if that was not enough, the Indians drove in another in the next minute through an opportunistic Sarwanjit, who pushed in the ball after Sandeep's flick, from a penalty-corner met his stick following a deflection from a Pakistani defender.
Pakistan, however, pulled two back within a span of two minutes. First Imran scored from a penalty stroke in the 27th minute and then Rizwan deflected home from a Muhammad Irfan cross from the right flank to go into the breather trailing 2-4.
India came out with same intensity in the second half and got three back-to-back penalty-corners. From one such opportunity, the home team increased their lead in the 41st minute when Mujtaba scored from a rebound after Sandeep's flick was initially stopped by a Pakistani defender.
Four minutes later Dharamvir, who scored a brace against Scotland in the last match, virtually took the match out of Pakistan's hand when he tapped in India's sixth goal after receiving a pass from Shivendra.
Pakistan, however, did not give up and made it 6-3 in the 58th minute through Irfam, who scored from a goalmouth melee after a set-piece was saved by the Indians.
To the delight of the packed Sunday crowd, goals rained India
increased their lead in the next minute through Shivendra, who ran solo from the right side of the goal mouth and made no mistake in driving the ball home.
Just two minutes from the hooter, veteran Shakeel Abbasi scored Pakistan's fourth goal after wrong footing a defender and Indian custodian Chhetri but it was too little, too late for the visitors.