The Indian women's team enhanced its chances for a podium finish with a thumping 13-0 victory over Thailand in the hockey competition of the Asian Games on Friday.
The +13 goals advantage and the six points from two victories out of the four played give it a boost before locking horns with Kazakhstan on Saturday. In its last match, India takes on the defending champion, China.
There was further good news for the Indian camp as Malaysia beat Kazakhstan 4-2.
Overcoming a sluggish initial phase, during which even a penalty corner was conceded to Thailand, India settled down to a steady rhythm and did not let the guard down.
Chanchan started the goal riot followed by Saba Anjum. Thereafter India slotted in at will, with skipper Surinder Kaur taking up the bulk of scoring.
She netted four goals with Rani Ramphal scoring three and Subadra Pradan a brace.
India rested goal-keeper Dipika Murty and fielded Yogita Bali for the match. While expressing concern over the poor rate of penalty corner conversion — India had 12 in the match — Sandeep Somesh, also took note of the growing list of injuries.
China beats Japan
Producing another winsome show, the reigning champion, China, beat off a strong challenge from Japan in its ride towards the semifinal berth in the women's event.
Zhao Yudiao came off with two spectacular goals to show why she is the best junior player in the world.
Japan did fight with all the strength in its command, but China's dominance in the contest was absolute despite giving away a lone goal late in the match.
On the men's side, the attention is riveted on Saturday's tussle between India and Pakistan that will virtually determine one of the semifinal berths.
Although India has won all of its three matches against Pakistan this year — at the World Cup, the Azlan Shah trophy and the Commonwealth Games — Pakistan's form in this event so far has been awesome. Such was the authority and skill the team showed on Thursday in a devastating 8-2 victory over Japan that it has forced many to peg Pakistan as the favourite for gold.
Riding high on confidence borne out of holding the defending champion Korea on Thursday, Malaysia strengthened its semifinal chances with an awesome scoring spree against Oman. Malaysia, which won 12-2, has seven points from three matches with a tie remaining against the host, China.
South Korea, the holder, recovered its poise after a drawn game on Thursday against Malaysia, to inflict a 3-1 defeat on last edition's silver medallist China, in Pool A.
Saturday's matches: Women: Japan v Thailand (12 noon); India v Kazakhstan (3.30 p.m.); China v Korea (5.30 p.m.).
Men: Pool B: Japan v Hong Kong (10.30 a.m.); India v Pakistan (12.30 p.m).