Steely resolve and four days of practice on grass in Ranchi have turned this ragtag unit into one of the most potent teams at the National Hockey Championships.
Six days ago, nobody gave them a chance. But, after beating Railways in the National Hockey Championship quarterfinal, Jharkhand have become the odds on favourite.
“We approached the sports department for making the synthetic field available to us at Ranchi for practice. However, the venue was locked for summer break. We then practiced on grass for four days," said Jharkhand coach Manohar Topno.
They started their campaign with easy wins over Himachal Pradesh and Manipur. Their win over the well-equipped Services drew people's attention and also earned them a quarterfinal berth.
"Services didn't permit their players to represent their respective states and thus we lost Rohit Tirkey and Birshoo Dhingra before the nationals. Our win over Services boosted the morale of the boys and we continued the form against Railways in the quarterfinal," he added.
Now, Jharkhand will face mighty Haryana in the semifinal under floodlights on Saturday. The star-studded Haryana will have Sandeep Singh and Sardar Singh who can turn the match with ease.
“Of course, they have Sandeep, an ace drag-flicker, but we are ready to block his shots,” affirmed Topno.
Superstition or luck
Superstition has also played a big role in Jharkhand's dream run in the championship, if the coach and the players are to be believed. On Friday, they shifted out of their 'lucky abode', the MLA rest house, and moved to the Tantya Tope Stadium ahead of the semifinal.
It remains to be seen if they are able to continue their dream run on Saturday.