The dream of a third successive podium finish for India in women's hockey disintegrated on Saturday despite a delightful performance against South Africa.

India missed out a semifinal berth by a goal difference of three, eight against the 11 by South Africa. Both finished with seven points each.

There were plenty of reasons to commiserate with the verdict for the home team which played the game with a classical touch.

Nerve-wracking tussle

Two penalty-corner goals by Deepika set the tone for a nerve-wracking tussle.

Minute by minute India escalated the pressure thanks to the good work in the mid-field by Jasbir Handa, The frontline worked efficiently with Surinder weaving in with absolute control.

The South African defenders were clueless against the verve and variations in the attack and then Surinder struck the third goal close on half-time.

However, the Indians progressively lost the edge. The South African goalkeeper, Magnisa, brought off a few brilliant saves to thwart the Indian attempts.

Even as the margin of difference was getting blurred, Pietie Coetzee, playing her 200th international netted the 200th goal of her career to ensure a first semifinal appearance for South Africa in this competition.

Australia in semifinals

Smart functioning of the defensive layer, with Imran Shah performing commendably under the bar, enabled Pakistan to restrict Australia, the defending champion, to a 1-0 win. Goalkeeper Imran Shah pulled off more than one save. One that caught the eye was the confidence with which he smothered a scorching penalty corner taken by Luke Doerner late in the second half. Australia clung on to a penalty-corner goal by Ciriello in the closing stages of the first half.

Burying the blushes of the last drawn game against Canada, England faced the Kiwi challenge with palpable composure. England's victory on Saturday was noteworthy for the triple assault by James Tindell.

Must-win situation

Despite exhibiting total dominance in the rival area, India managed to netjust four goals against Scotland in the Pool A.

This result puts India in a must-win situation against Pakistan tomorrowwhile a draw is enough for the latter to book the second spot in thesemifinal of the men's competition.

India struck twice quickly displaying good pattern weaving skills, butfailed to make good use of the penalty corners and a match finish to themoves.

Saravanjit Singh provided the finishing touches to a move in which Vikram Pillay and Shivender had a part. The lead was enlarged by Dharamvir, who produced two splendid goals in the match, while the other goal came from a penalty corner by Mahadik.

Pakistan has a better goal difference of plus five as against the plus two by India after today's match. India needs an outright win.

The results:

Men: Pool A: Australia 1 (Chriss Ciriello) bt Pakistan 0; India 4 (Sarvanjit Singh, Dharamvir Singh 2, Mahadik) bt Scotland 0

Pool B: England 5 (James Tindell 3, Richard Mantell, Rob Moore) bt New Zealand 3 (Phil Burrows, Hayden Shaw 2).

Canada 2 (Scott Tupper 2) bt Trinidad & Tobago 0.

Women: Pool A: Australia 5 (Kate Hollywood, Megan Rivers, Ashleigh Nelson, Jessica Nicole 2) bt Scotland 2 (Alisa Robertson, Samantha Judge).

India 3 (Deepika Thakur 2, Surinder Kaur) bt South Africa 1 (Pietee Goetzee).

Pool B: England 3 (Nicola White, Alex Danson, Georgie Twigg) bt Malaysia 0.

New Zealand 3 (Crystal Forgesson, Slacey Michelson, Clariss Eshuis) bt Canada 1 (Robyn Pendelton).

Sunday's matches: Men: Pool B: England v South Africa (12 noon); New Zealand v Canada (2 p.m.); Pool A: Australia v Malaysia (5 p.m.), India v Pakistan (7 p.m.).

Keywords: CWG 2010

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