Chandigarh Comets virtually assured themselves a berth in the semi-finals when they defeated Chennai Cheetahs 4-0 in the World Series Hockey competition here on Monday.
The victory that came on the back of goals by Mohd. Amir Khan (2nd), Gurjinder Singh (10th) and Gabbar Singh (41st), took Chandigarh's tally to 22 points from 12 games, just three behind leaders Sher-E-Punjab.
The Cheetahs, on suffering their sixth defeat in 12 outings, remain on 16 points with their semi-final hopes receding in the wake of another disappointing performance.
Overall, the Comets were far superior and their players showed no effects of fatigue despite arriving in the city around midnight after a long, tiring journey and emerged deserving winners.
The Cheetahs looked a dispirited side and with their penalty corner specialist Imran Warsi drawing blank from six attempts and striker Adam Sinclair tightly marked, the home team was bereft of ideas.
The first-half witnessed some swift exchanges with the Comets looking that much better organised, both in the defence and in the midfield in contrast to the hosts, who were pathetic in attack.
Also, the early reverse when Khan swept home a deflected ball inside the circle seemed to have rattled Chennai, who then slid 0-2 in arrears when Gurjinder drag-flicked a penalty corner for the Comets.
Down by two goals by the 10th minute, Chennai still had plenty of opportunities to score, especially during a three-minute spell when they were awarded four back-to-back penalty corners. Off the first, Imran Warsi struck the cross-piece and failed with the other four.
The second quarter was rather scrappy and Chennai, despite putting together a few dangerous moves, repeatedly fumbled inside the circle while the Comets, defending well with Aussie import Matthew Phillips and midfielder Sher Singh standing tall, repelled the attacks.
Soon after resumption, the Comets consolidated their position when Gabbar Singh converted a penalty stroke in the 41st minute after Gurjinder's penalty corner attempt struck defender Vinod Pillay on his leg.
In the last quarter, Chennai showed some urgency, but in keeping with the trend in this game, they seemed to be clueless once within scoring range while the Comets sought to control the pace.