National Hockey Championship: Railways, Air India seal thrilling wins
Railways, who won the National Hockey Championship last year, entered the semi-final along with Air India, Punjab and Petroleum Sports Promotion Board.other sports Updated: Mar 22, 2018 22:41 IST
Holders Railways struggled against last year’s runners-up Punjab and Sindh Bank before scripting a thrilling 2-1 win while Mohd Faraz’s hattrick carried experienced Air India into the semi-finals in the Senior Men’s National Hockey Championship (A Division) here on Thursday.
Trailing by a goal conceded in early minutes against Hockey Odisha in their quarter-final, Air India bounced back through Faraz, who converted three penalty corners to help seal a 3-2 win.
Punjab and Petroleum Sports Promotion Board too made it to the semi-finals, notching up contrasting wins. Punjab beat Comptroller and Auditor General of India 5-4 via penalty shootout in their quarter-final while PSPB defeated Hockey Chandigarh 3-0.
Air India were surprised in the second minute when Odisha right-in Ashok Lakra scored with a quick release of the ball. However, two penalty corner conversions by Mohd Faraz in four minutes (29’, 33’) in the second quarter saw Air India take a 2-1 lead.
Excitement arose when Odisha bounced back again through Nilam Sanjeep Xess, who converted a penalty corner a minute before half-time, to level scores (2-all). But Faraz’s hat-trick in the 50thminute ensured Air India’s win.
Earlier, it was the same old story for Railways, who struggled to overcome PSB. In last year’s final, Railways had scored a thrilling 3-0 win over PSB in a penalty shootout. Railways had to fire on all cylinders on Thursday in the first knockout game of the day.
Railways shot ahead through Sheshe Gowda, who converted the team’s first penalty corner in the second minute. PSB stepped up attacks and pushed their rivals back before Railways scored again through a field goal by Karanpal Singh in the 45th minute (2-0).
PSB though missed a number of goal-scoring opportunities. They had their only success three minutes before the hooter when Geet Kumar struck a field goal (1-2).
Punjab defeated CAG 5-4 via penalty shootout. Both teams played good hockey and were locked 1-1 draw at the end of the regulation time. A stunning save by Paras Malhotra in the shootout helped Punjab win.
The PSPB-Chandigarh clash was a story of missed chances, but PSPB managed to win 3-0. Harjeet Singh finished a well-constructed field goal in the 13th minute (1-0). Gurjinder Singh then popped up in the 32nd minute with a penalty corner conversion (2-0) before scoring his second in the 49th minute.
The victory margin could have been bigger if PSPB had not experimented with penalty corner conversions as they missed five easy ones. On Saturday, Railways take on Punjab in the first semi-final at 9.00 a.m and Air India meet PSPB in the second at 4.00 p.m.