Rani Rampal scored three goals as Indian eves kept alive their bronze medal hopes in the hockey competitions at the Asian Games with a thumping 6-0 win over Kazakhstan in their penultimate round robin match at the Aoti Hockey Field.
With this win, India, who were tied on points with Kazakhstan going into today's encounter, has improved their medal chances and are now lying fourth in the seven-team competition with nine points from five matches.
The 1982 gold medallist had routed Malaysia 4-0 and Thailand 13-0 but lost to 0-1 and 0-3 to South Korea and Japan in their previous matches.
India will now lock horns with defending champions China, who are aiming for a hat-trick of titles, in their final league match on Monday.
The classification matches for 5-6 positions, the bronze medal game and the final will be played on November 24.
Against Kazakhstan today, Rani Rampal found the net thrice, with two strikes coming in the second half (44th and 70th minute) after she had put India in the lead in the 24th minute with a field effort.
The other goal-getters in the match, in which Kazaksthan played without three players who have been suspended for having played for Belarus in the women's World Cup qualifying event in April, were Jasjeet Kaur Handa (40th minute), captain Surinder Kaur (54th) and veteran Saba Anjum (66th).
Contrary to the result, the Indians were little slow to begin with against Kazakhstan, who were without suspended players Alessya Pyotukh, Yuliya Mikheichik and Anastassiya Chsherbakova, as they went into the breather leading by a solitary goal.
However, after the change of ends it was a completely different scenario as coach Sandeep Somesh's girls pumped in as many as five goals to overwhelm their less-fancied rivals.
Within 10 minutes of the resumption of play, India tripled their lead when Jasjeet and Rani scored from penalty corners.
The ever-lively Surinder then made it 4-0 for India with a field goal in the 54th minute before Saba scored off a penalty corner to make it 5-0 in the 66th minute.
Rani rounded off the tally for India with her third goal just at the stroke of the hooter.