Melbourne, Dec 6 (IBNS) After sitting out of the Champions Trophy for the last six editions, India's grand return to hockey's top stage continued as they earned a spot in Saturday's semi-final.
Australia will take on India in Saturday's semi-final game. Australia are looking at their fifth consecutive Champions Trophy title with a 2-0 win over England.
The Aussies have lost only twice against India in 11 Champions Trophy meetings, with the last defeat coming in 2002.
India's earned its spot after a nail-biting 1-0 win against a persistent Belgium team in an entertaining quarterfinal meeting.
The Indians will go for their first Champions Trophy medal since 1982 and are guaranteed their first top-four finish since 2004.
A massive success considering the fact that the Indians came into the even as the lowest team in the FIH World Ranking, weighing in at 11.
Nithin Thimmaiah gave India the early advantage after getting a perfect feed from Sardar Singh for the easy 1-0 tap in.
Belgium slowly gained momentum as the half wore on and gave the Indians some worrying moments late in the half with two good penalty corner chances, but ultimately, India escaped the half with the slim 1-0 lead.
The second half, it was India's turn to own the momentum, but they simply couldn't convert their chances into goals, as the tension built with only one goal separating the teams.
Belgium had a handful of later penalty corner opportunities, while the Indians had a speedy counter attack, but neither team managed to put a dent in the scoreboard as Thimmaiah's goal stood as the lone marker in the critical quarterfinal game.
Belgium is still looking for the elusive first victory at the Champions Trophy.
The newcomers have put in some strong performances, but own a 0-4 record so far. The Belgians will look to get the first win in the placement round.