Pune, Dec 16 (IANS) Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra made it to the quarterfinals of the 11th Hockey India 2021 Senior Men National Championship Pimpri Chinchwad at the Major Dhyanchand Hockey Stadium, here on Thursday.
With this, the seven teams – Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Chandigarh and Punjab have now qualified for the knockouts.
In a goal-fest morning session, wherein 33 goals were recorded in two matches in Pool-F, Hockey Bengal won the race to the knockouts at the expense of Hockey Association of Odisha.
With both teams’ level on points and goal difference, the last two matches in the pool were all about the final score lines. Playing first, Odisha walked out 14-0 winners against Goa Hockey with Sushil Dhanwar netting six goals.
Sushil netted in the 5th, 6th, 9th, 12th, 12th in the first half, which was the quickest hat-trick of the tournament so far. He added another goal in the 45th minute to complete half a dozen.
Next-up, Bengal worked to their target with a 19-0 win over Gujarat. The highlight of the win was a 7-goal feat by Abhishek Pratap Singh (2nd, 12th, 14th, 25th, 34th, 37th, 39th), the highest by a Bengal player. Interestingly, all goals scored by Abhishek came off penalty-corner conversions.
At the end of both matches, Bengal and Odisha finished with 7 points each, but Bengal went through with a better goal difference (+5)
Later, Uttar Pradesh downed Assam Hockey 6-0 in Pool-G to make the last-8. UP ended with an all-win record and logged 9 points. Assam Hockey finished winless.
For Uttar Pradesh, Mohd Amir Khan (1st, 7th), Mohd. Saif Khan (8th, 43rd), Rishabh Sahu (21st) and Deepak Patel (50th) scored.
Later, Hockey Jharkhand pipped Kerala Hockey 2-1 to take the second spot in Pool-G. A goal each by Rajendra Oram (36th) and Sandeep Minj (52nd) put Jharkhand ahead before Kerala Hockey pulled one back through Ajeesh Reji (59th). For Jharkhand, the win was their second and helped them finish with 6 points. Kerala (3 points) took the third spot.
In Pool-A, Tamil Nadu topped and moved to the last-8 stage. In their last pool match, they downed Himachal 11-0. Karthi S (9th, 11th, 37th, 39th, 43rd) netted five goals to power TN through.
Tamil Nadu finished their Pool-A matches unbeaten and logged 6 points, Himachal (4 points) finished runners-up.
In the afternoon session, Hockey Maharashtra moved into the last 8 forcing their third win. They spanked Bihar 5-1 with all goals coming from successful penalty-corner conversions.
The first was from defender Pratap Shinde (14th) who beat the Bihar keeper with a clean and powerful push into the roof of the goal off the first penalty corner they forced. Bihar began cautiously and in fact put the hosts on the backfoot forcing three penalty corners before conceding a goal at their end.
In the second half, Maharashtra struck off the sixth penalty-corner they forced through an angular drive-by Tikaram Thakulla (37th). Maharashtra added two more goals through back-to-back goals by Pratap Shinde (41st & 42nd) who netted off the eight and tenth penalty-corners to make it 4-0.
Venkatesh Kenche (43rd) made it 5-0 with yet another successfully converted penalty corner. Bihar scored a consolation through Uday Bara (60th).
Maharashtra finished their campaign with 9 points and handed Bihar (6 points) their first loss.
In another match, Chhattisgarh Hockey downed Hockey Mizoram 6-1 to take third place in the pool.