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Railways clinch National Hockey Championship for 3rd successive time

Railways goalkeeper Jugraj Singh played a stellar role as Railways edged past Punjab & Sind Bank to win the Senior National Hockey Championship

other sports Updated: Jun 25, 2017 22:44 IST
Sharad Deep
Sharad Deep
Hindustan Times, Lucknow
Railways,National Hockey Championship,Punjab & Sindh Bank
The victorious Railways team after winning the Senior National Hockey Championship trophy.(HT Photo)

Riding on the brilliance of custodian Jugraj Singh, defending champions Railways on Sunday lifting the Senior National Hockey Championship trophy for the third successive time, outplaying Punjab & Sind Bank by 3-0 (1-1 in regulation time) in penalty shootout here.

An agile goalie Jugraj didn’t allow even a single P&SB man to beat him in the penalty shootout on all the three occasions, whereas rival custodian Guriqbal was found struggling against experienced Railways shooters, after the two teams ended their scheduled 60-minute duel as 1-1 draw.

Gaganpreet converted his team’s first penalty corner at the stroke of the first quarter to give P&SB 1-0 lead. But within minutes after a change in the ends, Amit Rohidas restored parity, also converting team’s second penalty corner into goal. His powerful hit first struck keeper Guriqbal’s left pad and then zoomed into the net in the 18th minute (1-all).

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Guriqbal though denied Yuvraj Walmiki a goal in the penalty shootout, he was beaten with pace and techniques by Sheshe Gowda, Raju Pal and Nilakanta Sharma. On the contrary, Jugraj forced Karamjit Singh, Simranjit and Jaskaran Singh to shot wide after failing to beat him.

Playing before a handsome crowd at the Padamshree Mohd Shahid Stadium, both Railways and P&SB men mesmerized the hockey fans with a fine dribbling and passing of the ball, but at the end it was experienced which made all the difference.

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“I knew what to do when it came to penalty shootout and I didn’t lost my focus,” an elated Railway’s keeper Jugraj said soon after collecting the gold medal for his team’s top finish. Coach Sunil Kumar too was excited with team’s hat-trick of wins in the final. “Yes, while being the defending champions we were in under pressure, and the one goal deficit in the first quarter added further pressure on us, but once we leveled the score, I was pretty sure of winning in the penalty shootout,” he said.

After stunning last year’s runners-up Punjab by a solitary goal in the semi-final on Saturday, P&SB men appeared quite confident and the way they scored the first goal in the first quarter, they were expected to cause another upset in the final. But the luck didn’t favour them as the star player of the world cup winning junior India team Parvinder Singh missed an open net chance in the dying minute of play.

“That goal could have made all the difference for us today,” manager Ranjeev Kumar said, adding, “But I am happy that boys played a very good hockey and that’s why we finished runners-up.”

Earlier in the day, Punjab defeated Chandigarh 2-1 to finish third. Baljinder Singh and Sarabjit Singh scored for Punjab, whereas Damandeep Singh scored the consolation goal for Chandigarh in the last quarter.

First Published: Jun 25, 2017 21:39 IST