Karnataka rout Andhra
Hockey National Championship: Hosts sign off pool fixtures in style, to meet TN in quarters today
Captain V R Raghunath, Vikram Kanth, M K Mudappa, Nitin Thimmaiah and S K Uthappa scored a goal apiece as the hosts once again rode on team effort to sign off Pool B unbeaten with 12 points from four matches and set up a last-four encounter with neighbours Tamil Nadu on Saturday at the KSHA stadium.
Knowing a draw would suffice to seal their berth into the next phase, Karnataka began in familiar fashion. Attacking from the opening hooter and showing plenty of promise with their build-up play, the hosts had Andhra desperately running for cover early on.
However, as has been the case through out the tournament, all those opportunities materialised into nothing, thanks to their sloppy finishing.
They could have broken the ice as early as in the second minute when Somanna K M, showing wonderful stick-work and vision, dribbled past four defenders before releasing the ball to an unmarked Nikin Thimmaiah. Shockingly, with just the goalkeeper to beat, Nikin failed to connect.
The hosts kept squandering chances despite enjoying great control over their opponents before India drag-flicker Raghunath calmed the nerves with a clean penalty corner strike in the 11th minute. And, just like their previous matches, the opening salvo rekindled their fire and the hosts began to match creativity and execution.
Medio-cum-defender Vikram increased their lead in the 21st minute, collecting a Raghunath pass from the edge of the circle before turning around and blasting it past Andhra goalkeeper Srinivasa Rao. Just when it appeared they were beginning to take firm control of the proceedings, the hosts received a minor jolt when Andhra changed gears suddenly.
Andhra were soon rewarded, earning a penalty stroke in the 23rd minute which was successfully converted by Sampath Kumar. It was the first goal conceded by Karnataka in the tournament. With Andhra too choosing to go all out, both teams created plenty of chances for the remainder of the first half, resulting in end-to-end action.
After a nervous beginning to the second half, Karnataka gave themselves some breathing space when Mudappa applied the finishing touches to Nitin’s pass in the 43rd minute. Nitin then slammed in a brilliant solo effort five minutes later, bursting down the centre before moving left and thundering home a powerful reverse-hit. India striker Uthappa deflected home a dolly in the 51st minute as the hosts galloped to another big victory.
Results: Pool B: Karnataka: 5 (VR Raghunath 11th, Vikram Kanth 21st, MK Mudappa 43rd, Nitin Thimmaiah 48th, SK Uthappa 51st) bt Andhra Pradesh: 1 (Sampath Kumar 23rd); Himachal Pradesh: 18 (Siddharth Shanker 3rd, 11th, 20th, 21st, Prashant Kalsh 36th, 38th, 60th, 63rd, Sarbjeet Singh 30th, 59th, Rockey Lochab 44th, 61st, Rajesh Kumar 49th, Pawan Bassi 16th, Hatinder Singh 23rd, Lakhvir Singh 34th, Amit Lochab 41st, Harpreet Bansal 69th) bt Mizoram: 1 (Lalruatfela Zota 55th). Pool D: Jharkhand: 9 (Ajitesh Roy 15th, 18th, 41st, 47th, Diwakar Ram 37th, 57th, Roshan Minz 9th, Anil Xaxa 46th; Jhon Minz 60th) bt Sashstra Seema Bal: 1 (L Joychandra Singh 19th); Chandigarh: 7 (Shahnawaz Alam 27th, 68th, Lakhwinder Singh 9th, Raminder Singh 16th, Devender Singh 18th, Lovedeep 53rd, Kulbhushan Vashisht 58th) bt Uttarakhand: 1 (Maheshwar Singh Negi 67th).
Quarterfinal line-ups (all matches at KSHA): Haryana vs Manipur (12 noon); Karnataka vs Tamil Nadu (2.30 pm); Punjab vs Railways (5.00 pm); Jharkhand vs Air India (7.30 pm).