Pune, Dec 18 (IANS) Hockey Punjab, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh and hosts Maharashtra moved into the semi-finals with hard-fought wins in the 11th Hockey India Senior Men National Championship at the Major Dhyanchand Hockey Stadium, Nehrunagar-Pimpri near here on Saturday.
In the first quarter-final, two-time champions Hockey Punjab left it late to down a gritty Hockey Chandigarh 2-1. For Punjab, both goals were scored by the experienced Tokyo Olympic bronze medallist Rupinder Pal Singh.
After a goalless first half and the third quarter, Hockey Punjab broke the deadlock off a powerfully taken penalty corner by Rupinder Pal Singh (46th) that deflected off a defender into the roof of the goal.
Chandigarh levelled the score four minutes later when Arshdeep Singh (50th) deflected the ball into the Punjab goal 1-1. A further three minutes later, Rupinder’s low drag-flick beat Chandigarh goalkeeper Jashandeep Singh with pace, which turned out to be the winner.
In the second match of the day. Hockey Bengal and Hockey Karnataka were locked in an intense battle before the South team won 3-2 through a late winner by Ali Ansar A.M (58th) off a penalty corner.
Bengal was first to go 1-0 through Alsem Lakra (9th) which was levelled out by Karnataka’s Mohd. Raheel (21st) to make it 1-1. Harish Mutagar (30th) then put Karnataka ahead for the first time converting a penalty corner, before Bengal pulled levels via Abhishek Pratap Singh (40th) off a penalty corner.
In the other quarter-final, Uttar Pradesh scored via Mohd. Sadiq (25th), that turned out to be the match-winner. Uttar Pradesh beat Hockey Haryana who boasted four India Junior World Cuppers.
Hockey Maharashtra took the last semi-final slot downing the Hockey Unit of Tamil Nadu with a 2-0 win in the shoot-out after playing out a 2-2 draw at the end of full time.
The match played under lights had both Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu create opportunities enough but move the scoreboard. Against the run of play, hosts Maharashtra went 1-0 through Pratap Shinde (8th) with a successful penalty corner conversion. The goal was his 10th of the tournament and all coming off penalty corners.
Thereafter, it was Maharashtra keeper Akash Chikte who stood between a host of attacks which included reflex action saves from the attempts off Silver Stalin S, then it was a deflection to a stiff reverse flick by Joshua Benedict Wesley.
At the other end, Tamil Nadu survived when Pratap Shinde tapped in the ball into the goal beating the Tamil Nadu keeper M Arun Prasadh by the narrowest of angles. However, the umpire felt otherwise denying the ‘goal’ and awarded a penalty corner instead.
Thereafter, Tamil Nadu gained the upper hand and scored the equaliser through Karthi S (46th) off a penalty corner and then added another two minutes later with a well-worked tap-in to make it 2-1.
Maharashtra, thereafter, pushed hard and were rewarded when Taleb Shah (6oth) squeezed in the equaliser to push the game into the ‘shoot-out’.
For Maharashtra Darshan Gawkar, Venkatesh Kenche scored twice, while Taleb Shah, Moses Pullanthara missed their attempts. Tamil Nadu could not convert a single attempt from the shoot-out and had Mareeswaran Sakthivel, Silver Stalin, Joshua Benedict Wesley, and Karthi S.
Hockey Punjab: 2 (Rupinder Pal Singh 46th, 53rd) bt Hockey Chandigarh: 1 (Arshdeep Singh 50th)
Hockey Karnataka: 3 (Mohd. Raheel 21st, Harish Mutagar 30th, Ali Ansar A.M 58th) bt Hockey Bengal: 2 (Alsem Lakra 9th, Abhishek Pratap Singh 40th). HT: 2-1
Uttar Pradesh Hockey: 2 (Mohammad Amir Khan 12th; Mohd. Sadiq 25th) bt Hockey Haryana: 1 (Mandeep 13th). HT: 2-1
Maharashtra 2 (Pratap Shinde 8th; Taleb Shah 60th) bt Tamil Nadu: 2 (Karthi S 46th, 48th) via shoot-out 2-0. HT: 1-0