India’s Friday evening began with a frustrating stutter but it ended in cruise mode as the hosts of the FIH Series Finals here tick-marked their primary objective of securing a place in the year-end Olympic qualifiers with a comfortable 7-2 win over Japan in the semi-final.HighlightsIndia secured a place in the Olympic qualifiers with a comfortable 7-2 win over Japan in the semi-finalIndia will meet South Africa in the summit clash of the FIH Series Finals on SaturdaySouth Africa defeated USA 2-1 in the other semi-final(PTI Photo)BHUBANESWAR: India’s Friday evening began with a frustrating stutter but it ended in cruise mode as the hosts of the FIH Series Finals here tick-marked their primary objective of securing a place in the year-end Olympic qualifiers with a comfortable 7-2 win over Japan in the semi-final.
Coach Graham Reid’s boys will meet South Africa in the final on Saturday, after the Africans defeated USA 2-1 in the other semi-final that ended with a thrilling last-minute winner to take Tim Drummond’s team through to the Olympic qualifiers.
India’s dreaded moment came as early as the second minute when Kenji Kitazato found himself at the end of a neat cross-pitch hit to find the Indian defence and goalkeeper Krishan Pathak napping.
But Harmanpreet Singh in the seventh minute and Varun in the 14th converted two penalty corners to help the Indian bench breathe easy before the end of first quarter.
Japan came out of the quarter break in spirited fashion to draw level through Kota Watanabe in the 20th minute. But that was their last moment of high-fives.
India upped the ante and looked more assertive in most of the remaining 45 minutes, thanks to a brace by Ramandeep Singh (23rd and 37th) and goals from Hardik Singh (25th), Gursahibjit Singh (43rd) and Vivek Sagar Prasad (47th).
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