Chandigarh:Local favourites Chandigarh Dynamos and defending champion Bangalore Hi-Fliers Sunday entered the semi-finals of the fourth Premier Hockey League (PHL) in Chandigarh.
Chandigarh Dynamos scraped past Maratha Warriors 1-0 while Bangalore Hi-Fliers edged past Sher-e-Jallandhar 2-1 in round-robin league matches at the Sector 42 Hockey Stadium.
Bangalore became the first team to book a semi-final berth, topping the table with 14 points from five wins out of six matches.
Chandigarh won four of their five matches to earn 12 points. They have one match left, against Chennai Veerans.
Shers, on the other hand, have accumulated just five points from the five matches they played and have to win their last match against Orissa Steelers to keep alive their chances of making it to the last four.
Maratha Warriors remain on seven points after five outings. They have to beat Hyderabad Sultans in their last match to make the semi-final grade.
In the Bangalore Hi-Fliers-Sher-e-Jallandhar encounter, both the teams had an equal share of exchanges after a barren first half.
Hi-Fliers drew the first blood in the 47th minute, converting their third penalty corner through drag-flicker Len Aiyappa who sent a low flick to the right of Shers' Pakistani import, goalkeeper Salman Akbar.
Then onwards, Shers too showed more urgency in their moves but failed to get into the Hi-Fliers' circle. In the 52nd minute, Hi-Fliers' custodian Bharat Chetri made a good save, thwarting a Sarvanjit Singh shot.
Chetri again came to the Hi-Fliers' rescue, blocking Kanwalpreet Singh's flick from a penalty corner in the 58th minute.
To add salt to Shers' wound, Korean Hyo-sik doubled the lead in the 67th minute with a superb field goal.
However, Shers pulled one back in the 69th minute when Gurvinder Singh deflected into goal a long diagonal cross into the circle from the left.
In the last minute of the match, Jugraj came up with a fast counter attack passing the ball to Gurvinder Chandi in the circle and created some anxious moments for the Bangalore defence, but no damage was done.
In the second match, Chandigarh Dynamos played a fast and attacking game and their Pakistani star Ghazanfar Ali was once again the fulcrum of the team controlling the pace of game from the midfield.
Off a move from the left-flank, Dynamos struck in the 26th minute and it turned out to be the match-winner.
A corner hit from Rajpal Singh found Ravipal Singh just outside the circle on the goalline and Ravipal sent a cross into the goalmouth where Sher Singh connected to put Dynamos ahead.
Thereafter Maratha Warriors had a better share of exchanges but they failed to convert any of the three short corners they earned. Their Dutch import Looijem Melchior, who took the flicks, was foiled first by a rusher and off the second was parried away by diving Dynamos custodian Baljit Singh.
From the third short corner, Warriors saw a bad stop, but Ajmer Singh recovered and gave a short pass to Dhananjay Mahadik. But again goalkeeper Baljit blocked his shot. The rebound came back to Looijem on the right but the Dutch player's shot flew over the bar.
Dynamos skipper Rajpal Singh was declared Man of the Match.