India struck twice in the second half to beat Malaysia 2-0 and qualify for the semi-finals in the eighth women's Asia Cup hockey tournament at the Stadium Hoki Nasional, in Kuala Lumpur, on Tuesday.
Goals by Poonam Rani (39th minute) and Lily Chanu (46th) enabled India place second in Pool A with six points, behind China, who finished with nine.
India will meet Pool B toppers Korea in the first semi-final on Thursday, while China take on Japan in the second.
India has earlier spanked Hong Kong 13-0 in their tournament opener before going down to defending champions China by a solitary goal in their next game.
Knowing well that only winning the eight-nation tournament will guarantee them a place in next year's World Cup, the Indian eves started cautiously against the hosts, who were backed by a vociferous home crowd.
They looked far from promising in the first-half as the Rani Rampal-led forwardline failed to breach the Malaysian defence.
Both the teams created a few chances but were unable to break the deadlock in the first half.
After the change of ends, the Indians were more purposeful and took the lead in the 39th minute through a field goal from Poonam Rani.
The goal raised the team’s confidence and they went for relentless attacks, which resulted in doubling the lead soon.
Lily Chanu made the scoreline 2-0 in the 46th minute through another field strike.
Thereafter, the Indians played sensibly and denied Malaysia any opening to make a comeback into the match.
Image: Poonam Rani
Photograph: Getty Images