India beat South Africa 3-2 to qualify for the Commonwealth Games men's hockey final . India scored in the 20th minute thanks to Abhishek, Mandeep Singh, and Jugraj Singh .
BIRMINGHAM, INDIA (APPROXIMATELY)-To qualify for the Commonwealth Games mens hockey final on Saturday, Olympic bronze medalist India thrashed South Africa 3-2.India scored in the 20th minute thanks to Abhishek (20th minute), Mandeep Singh (28th), and Jugraj Singh (58th), while South Africa scored from the sticks of Ryan Julius (33rd) and Mustapha Cassiem (59th).It was supposed to be a cakewalk for India, but it did not turn out that way thanks to South Africa custodian Gowan Jones, who pumped out a spectacular display under the pressure.The score-line in favor of the Indians could have been much higher if not for Jones' stellar display.In the first quarter, India had a lot of circle penetrations and chances, but Jones fell short of them, standing like a rock in front of the goal.In the first half, he prevented India's star drag-flicker Harmanpreet Singh from converting as many as four penalty corners, allowing his team to maintain control.Jones' anticipation and reflexes were a treat to watch as he attempted save after save.Jones was solid in front of the goal from open play, allowing Shamsher Singh's try to be pulled out in the 10th minute after being set by Akashdeep Singh. South Africa was hoping to find some rhythm in the second quarter and score three penalty corners in succession, but India's reserve goalie Krishan Bahadur Pathak was up for the challenge.In the 20th minute, Abhishek broke the deadlock when he scored a smashing reverse hit from the top of the circle to eventually beat Jones.Minutes later, Jones came to his side again, blocking Amit Rohidas' fierce shot and then blocking Akashdeeps reverse shot.However, India doubled its lead in the 28th minute thanks to Mandeep, who scored a fine goal after being fed by Gurjant Singh. After the change of ends, South Africa seemed more determined and reduced the lead three minutes after restart, thanks to Julius who scored off a penalty corner.Jones was unstoppable in the 38th minute when he saved Abhishek from a rash.South Africa was not to be hindered by being pushed into the Indian circle every now and then, grabbed some penalty corners, but failed to breach the defense.Jones saved another brilliant save in the 41st minute to keep out Jarmanpreet Singhs attack from Indias sixth set piece. Indias tactic worked fine as they pressed South Africa's forward press.With four minutes to go, South pulled Jones out and India used the opportunity to stretch their lead by smashing home Jugraj from a penalty corner.Africa was threatened by Cassiem's reverse hit to make it 3-2.The Indians stayed on target though, winning the 2014 edition, where they came second best to Australia.