Sarita brace sends Bombay into semis

Sarita brace sends Bombay into semis

In control: MP Academy’s Reena Rathore dribbles past a Haryana defender in the IHF Senior Nationals. DH photo

Pushed to backfoot after Gangi Mundu’s fourth minute opener for Madhya Pradesh, Bombay rallied back in spirited fashion, thanks to Sarita Hanuman’s brace, here at the KSHA stadium.

Favourites Haryana left it late but held their nerve to secure a spot in the semifinals, outlasting MP Academy 5-4 via tie-breaker.  Madhya Pradesh, who had been prolific in the league phase, made the best possible start to the quarterfinal contest after stroking ahead through Gangi even before Bombay could settle down. Having grabbed the early advantage, Madhya Pradesh continued to call the shots, leaving Bombay chasing shadows under the baking hot sun.

MP dictated the terms in fine fashion, their passing and movement posing numerous headaches for the Bombay defence. However, despite creating several openings, they lacked the composure upfront, missing two sitters that would have certainly dented Bombay’s chances.

In the 18th minute, Pragya Maurya dribbled down the right, beat three Bombay defenders with a fine burst of pace, before whipping an excellent cross into the cricle. However, to her dismay, an unmarked Raina Yadav failed to connect from point blank range.

Two minutes laters, Pragya again squandered another chance after doing all the hardwork herself. The medio latched onto a loose ball from the left, dribbled down the centre before setting up a one-on-one with Bombay goalkeeper Mamta Tigga. However, shockingly, despite unmarked, she hit wide in the 18th minute.

The missed chance cost MP badly as Sarita struck twice in space of six minutes to lead Bombay to victory. In the 24th minute, Sadhana Singh sent a long cross from the centre to Sarita, the striker collecting it cleanly just off the circle before turning around and slamming the ball into the top corner. Sarita then completed Bombay comeback, pouncing onto a loose ball after a goalmouth melee to tap the ball in for opportunistic goal and a spot in the semis.

Result (both quarterfinals): Bombay: 2 (Sarita Hanuman 24th, 30th) bt Madhya Pradesh: 1 (Gangi Mundu 4th).

Haryana: 5 (Ranji 57th) bt MP Academy: 4 (Kavitha Vidyarthi 21st) via tie-breaker. FT: 1-1.