Chennai, March 25 (IANS) Sher-E-Punjab here Sunday booked their berth in the semi-finals of the World Series Hockey competition defeating Chennai Cheetahs 4-2 for their eighth win in 12 matches.
Goals by Bikramjit Singh (14th), Harpreet Singh (21st), Deepak Thakur (42nd) and Gagan Ajit Singh (68th) set up Punjab's victory while Chennai, for whom Adam Sinclair (6th) and Imran Warsi (31st) scored, slid to their fifth defeat in 11 outings and remain on 16 points.
With two more away matches in hand, Punjab who will be visiting Pune and Delhi, are assured of a berth in the semi-finals as they have 25 points, well clear of Chandigarh Comets (19 from 11), Karnataka Lions (18 from 12) and the Cheetahs (16 from 11).
Punjab gave an impressive performance that underlined their strong defence and a fluid frontline where the likes of Thakur and Mathew Hotchkis stood out while the Cheetahs, playing their first game after a five-day break, looked rather unsettled as they wasted a strong start.
Chennai were first off the blocks when a well-positioned and quick thinking Sinclair flicked home a through ball from Vikram Pillay in only the sixth minute.
However, Punjab kept their composure to strike twice in a seven-minute spell through penalty corner conversions by Bikramjit and Harpreet to go 2-1 up by the 21st.
Chennai then survived some pressure before swinging into a counter-attack that resulted in a penalty corner and promptly, Warsi converted for his 16th goal of the competition.
On change of ends, Punjab forged ahead again when Thakur deflected a reverse hit by Hotchkis after a strong run down the line by Vinaya. Chennai skipper Brent Livermore disputed the goal that was subsequently upheld after a referral.
In the last quarter, Punjab stepped up the pace and effectively ended Chennai's challenge when Thakur, following a lovely run down the middle, passed to an unmarked Gagan Ajit inside the circle and the latter drove home for the fourth goal.
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