Punjab nail Services
Hockey National Championships: Gurjinder, Akashdeep net three goals each in 7-2 win
Needing nothing less than a victory to confirm their ticket for the last-eight stage, Punjab fought tooth and nail against a gritty Services for most part of the rain-interrupted encounter before galloping to an emphatic 7-2 victory in their Pool C encounter at the KSHA stadium.
Defender Gurjinder Singh (9th, 43rd, 62nd) and striker Akashdeep Singh (58th, 66th, 70th) jointly led Punjab’s spirited display with a treble each while Satbir Singh (69th) nailed in one to slam the door on Services.
The match between Punjab and Services turned very crucial for both the teams following the no-show of Arunachal Pradesh and the disqualification of Chattisgarh. Jammu and Kashmir, who provided nothing more than a token presence, were the other team in the pool.
Despite knowing that a draw would suffice to advance to the next stage, Services took the challenge to Punjab only to be undone by their inadequacy in the penalty corner department. With no big drag-flicker at their disposal, they squandered all but one of their seven attempts which ultimately proved to be the difference.
Punjab, on the other hand, looked solid in all the departments. Despite being pushed hard, they kept their wits together, finding goals at crucial stages to always maintain the pressure on Services, who simply caved in at the end.
After powering ahead through Gurjinder’s brilliant drag-flick in the ninth minute, Punjab were at the receiving end of some sharp raids from Services. Although they managed to keep them at the bay for a while, a stunning scoop from Lovepreet Singh in the 25th minute brought Services level.
Both teams went for broke in the second half, the tempo interrupted twice by the heavy rain that lashed the stadium. Gurjinder put Punjab 2-1 ahead with his second goal before Sanwar Ali struck from a goal-mouth melee to bring Services right back in the 54th minute. Just when it appeared Services had control of the match, Akashdeep restored Punjab’s lead, laying the finishing touches to a fine cross from Satbir Singh.
Going desperately in search of an equaliser, Services threw their men forward and Punjab cashed in the opportunity, striking five times on the counter attack to seal their opponents fate in ruthless style.
Results: Pool A: Puducherry: 2 (Manthena 30th, Jayaraj 43rd) drew Bengal: 2 (Asis Singh Sengar 38th, Gurvinder Singh 65th).
Pool B: Delhi: 10 (Avatar Singh Mann 18th, 52nd, Umesh 34th, 44th, Mohit 41st, 58th, Shyambir 46th, 48th, Lalit 32nd, Pawan Singh Chouhan 54th) bt Mizoram: 1 (Lalringheta 1st); Andhra Pradesh: 5 (Ramesh Krishnan 15th, 33rd, Ramesh Setti 17th, Sandeep Raju 30th, Krishna Kishore 69th) bt Himachal Pradesh: 4 (Amit Lochab 13th, 48th, Sarabjeet Singh 23rd, Lakhvir Singh 70th).
Pool C: Punjab: 7 (Gurjinder Singh 9th, 43rd, 62nd, Akashdeep Singh 58th, 66th, 70th, Satbir Singh 69th) bt Services: 2 (Lovepreet Singh 25th, Sanwar Ali 54th).
Pool D: Jharkhand: 7 (Ajitesh Roy 2nd, 34th, 40th, 46th, 68th, Anil Xaxa 41st, Gainder Tigga 70th) bt Uttarakhand: 1 (Manoj Singh Rawat 27th); Chandigarh: 14 (Deepanshu Bhargava 7th, 16th, 23rd, Raminder Singh 12th, 53rd, Sandeep Singh 30th, 66th, Lakhwinder Singh 38th, 51st, Ravinder Singh 24th, Harmanpreet Singh 32nd, Shahnawaz Alam 45th, Lovedeep 60th, Kulbhushan Vashisht 63rd) bt Goa: 2 (Glen Prad 46th, Dattesh Priolkar 70th).
Pool F: Uttar Pradesh: 24 (Chandan Singh 6th, 13th, 20th, 42nd, 44th, 51st, 53rd, Jayakaran 14th, 56th, 57th, Abhishek 16th, 21st, 22nd, Imran Khan 24th, 59th, 64th, Mohd Amir Khan 26th, 28th, 49th, 55th, 66th, 68th, 69th, Chauhan Singh 50th) bt Tripura: 0; Pool F: Railways: 12 (Sanjay Bir Singh 8th, 17th, 43rd, 53rd, 57th, 62nd, Innocent Kullu 12th, 15th, 55th, Chenglensana 41st, 50th, Victo Singh 52nd) bt Assam: 0.
Pool H: Manipur: 9 (Chittaranjan Singh 8th, 46th, Herojit Singh 17th, 51st, 68th, Hera Singh 12th, Gayan Enderjit 30th, Jayanta Kumar Meitel 40th, Abung Singh 55th) bt Bihar: 3 (Chotu Kumar 1st, Brisha Bhengra 54th, 66th); Combined University: 14 (Hans Raj 1st, 30th, 32nd, Lakwinder Singh 5th, 58th, Barkat Singh 9th, Hussain Khan 16th, 24th, 64th, Navnesh Kumar 26th, 44th, Manjinder Singh 38th, Gurpreet Singh 42nd, Balwinder Singh 53rd) bt Andaman & Nicobar: 0.