Chennai: Table-toppers Sher-E-Punjab notched up a clinical 4-2 victory over local favourites Chennai Cheetahs to advance to the semi-finals of the World Series Hockey here on Sunday.
Playing their 12th league match at the Mayor Radhakrishnan Stadium, Bikramjit Singh converted Punjab's second penalty corner in the 12th minute to equalise 1-1 after the hosts drew the first blood in the 6th minute.
International Adam Sinclair came up with a peach of a goal utilising a tailor-made cross by Vikram Pillay to put the hosts ahead.
In the 22nd minute Harpreet Singh scored to hand Punjab the lead but 10 minutes later Imran Warsi converted Cheetah's first of the three penalty corners to bring the hosts level.
In the 43rd minute, Australian Mathew Hotchkis of Punjab increased the tally to 3-2 and substitute Gagan Ajit Singh made it 4-2 during the fag end of the match.
With three more matches to go in the league phase, Cheetahs need to win at least two of them to progress to the semi-finals as they are placed in the fourth spot with 16 points.
So far, Cheetahs have lost five matches and won as many ties besides a drawn match, while Sher-E-Punjab have won eight of their 12 matches, drawn one and lost three to tally 25 points. They have scored 38 goals and yielded 25.
The main reason for Cheetahs loss on Sunday could be attributed to Coach Jose Brasa's decision to play the team captain Brent Livermore (a forward) in the defense.
The first two quarters were evenly fought as the rivals were able to be on equal terms but eventually Punjab dished out superior brand of hockey and kept up a good pace in dislodging the defenders of Cheetahs.
Punjab's third and fourth goals emanated in typical fashion as they beat the hosts with their nippy runs displaying great ball control.
Punjab player put up a great team effort as defenders stuck to their task of avoiding fouls on their circle and the medios kept up steady supplies to the hardworking forwards.
The high-pressure match also tested the nerves of the players and at times Umpires had to intervene to calm the players.
In fact, the goal by Aussie Mathew Hotchkis was contested by Cheetah's star Imran Warsi and captain Brent Livermore, and Umpire Satinder Kumar Sharma had to seek third Umpire's intervention.
VS Vinaya passed from almost on the left line and Mathew was swift in deflecting the ball in to the netting.