India's marginal hopes of entering the semifinals of the hockey World Cup went up in smoke as England thrashed the home team 3-2 to secure their place in the last-four stage of the mega-event in New Delhi on today.
The defeat not only saw India go out of contention for the semifinal race but the hosts also registered their third straight loss in the tournament after having bruised an equally unimpressive Pakistan 4-1 in their tournament opener.
With four wins from as many matches, England are through to the last-four stage of the tournament and will take on Spain in their inconsequential last pool match on Monday, while India will play South Africa.
Ashley Jackson (42nd and 47th minutes) and James Tindall (16th) of England continued their good show in the tournament, while Gurvinder Singh Chandi (54th) and captain Rajpal Singh (58th) scored for India at the floodlit Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium.
India lacked the hunger for victory after their back-to-back defeats and looked like a club side in front of their home crowd, committing numerous errors in the all departments of the game.
The Indians seemed to have not learnt from their mistakes in the last two matches as they kept on giving open spaces to their opponents inside their circle.
India's ball-control and trapping was awful. To add to it, the defence, for the third consecutive day, faltered.
Dhanjay Mahadik and Sandeep Singh were guilty of giving away the ball to their opponents on more than one occasion.
The mid-field was no better -- not only they failed to co-ordinate between the defence and the forward-line, they also lost ball-control at crucial junctures.
However, what was heartening in India's performance was their fighting spirit as they fought till the last breath to dig out at least something from the encounter.
In contrast, England showed their intention from the very beginning of the match as they came up with their first scoring chance as early as in the sixth minute.
For most part of the first half, England caught the Indian defence napping with their one-touch passes.
Jackson came up with two reverse stick shots but on first occasion Indian custodian Adrian D'Souza denied him, and then the English striker shot wide.
Indians too had plenty of scoring chances in the opening period but the Prabhjot Singh-led forward-line failed to live up to the expectations.
India earned two penalty corners in the first half but Sandeep squandered the first chance and then English goalkeeper James Fair denied Mahadik. PTI