Defending champion Haryana reached its second straight final with a 4-2 victory over Tamil Nadu through a shoot-out to set up a summit clash with Punjab at the 13th Senior National men’s hockey championship on Monday.
The three-time champion ran roughshod over Karnataka, winning 5-1 in the second semifinal, thanks to a brace from skipper Harmanpreet Singh.
Just when one thought that a brilliant goal by Abhishek, who hoodwinked two defenders to unleash a backhander, had settled the issue for Haryana in the third quarter came the equaliser from TN with few seconds remaining for the hooter.
Having not converted its previous three penalty corners, TN didn’t inspire much confidence when it took its fourth penalty corner. Somanna stunned everyone when his drive went past the outstretched left leg of ‘keeper Pawan into the net.
Haryana took a 3-1 lead in the shoot-out after K. Selvaraj and S. Karthi failed to find the target. Sundarapandi reduced the margin. TN had hopes when Haryana captain Sumit’s shot was saved by ‘keeper Senthamizh Arasu. Haryana went for a video referral, which it won after it was revealed that Arasu had committed a foul. Joginder Singh converted the resultant penalty stroke to put Haryana in the final.
Punjab had a firm hold on the proceedings against Karnataka. Though a young Karnataka team showed flashes of individual brilliance, Punjab stood its ground with a solid performance. The match almost ended after Punjab took a 4-1 lead in the third quarter. Punjab last won the crown in 2021 and will face Haryana for the first time in the final in 13 editions.
The results (Semifinals):
Haryana 4 (Sanjay, Rajant, Abhishek, Joginder Singh (PS) bt TN 2 (S. Mareeswaran, Sundarapandi) via shoot-out. The teams were tied 1-1 at regulation time.
Punjab 5 (Shamsher Singh 4, Sukhjeet Singh 13, Harmanpreet Singh 39, 44, Akashdeep Singh 45) bt Karnataka 1 (Abharan Sudev 18).
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