There seemed to be no end to the ‘sudden death’ in the final of the Hockey India 13th Senior National men’s championship here on Tuesday.
A total of 27 shots were taken in the shoot-out and sudden death, and Punjab emerged the winner over defending champion Haryana by a 9-8 margin after the teams were tied 2-2 at regulation time. This was Punjab’s fourth title in 13 editions.
There was little to choose between the two teams as both played slow, measured hockey, waiting for the right time to strike.
Towards the end of the first quarter, Punjab’s Sukhjeet Singh rolled one slowly and perfectly for Harjeet Singh to unleash a grand sweep into the net. Haryana fought back through Sanjay, who struck his 13th goal of the tournament with a penalty corner strike that was angled well to the left side of the net in the second quarter.
Punjab captain Harmanpreet Singh did what he does best with a near-perfect penalty corner strike into the left corner of the roof in the third quarter. Haryana made quite a few counter-attacks at the start of the fourth quarter, and it was rewarded soon when an attack from the right resulted in a goal. Sanjay glided one past ‘keeper Krishna Pathak off a short pass from Deepak.
It was neck and neck in sudden death as 17 shots were taken in total. After Dilpreet Singh of Punjab scored, the scoreboard read 8-8. Harmanpreet’s goal was disallowed for it was scored after the whistle was blown.
Then, Abhishek was pushed by the Punjab custodian when he went for the shot, and a stroke was awarded to Haryana. Joginder Singh, who took the stroke, scored. However, it was disallowed as it was deemed to be a ‘tap’ and not a ‘push’.
Simranjeet Singh, who retook the penalty as his first one was deemed an infringement by the ‘keeper, scored much to the joy of Punjab. With a 9-8 lead, it was left to Haryana striker Sanjay to convert and take the match forward, but he hit it wide.
Earlier, Tamil Nadu bagged the bronze, defeating Karnataka in the third-place play-off match.
“I thought we would finish the match only in the morning (Wednesday),” joked Punjab captain Harmanpreet. “It was great winning for Punjab, as I am playing for the State after quite a long time.”
The results (final):
Punjab 2 (Harjeet Singh, Harmanpreet Singh) drew with Haryana 2 (Sanjay, Rajant). Punjab won 9-8 via penalty shoot-out.
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