Last year's B division champion SAI staged a fine comeback to overcome a three goal deficit to hold fancied Haryana to a 3-3 draw and qualified for the quarterfinals from Pool B in the 10th National Senior Women's Hockey Championship (A division) at the National Games Hockey stadium here on Tuesday.
SAI women exposed the fallibility in Haryana defence which was rarely tested in the previous matches. If not for the profligacy of SAI forwards, Haryana could well have lost the contest.
A rout appeared on cards when Haryana slammed three goals inside the first quarter. Prolific striker Deepika was on target with a field goal in the fifth minute and she increased the lead by converting a penalty corner in the 12th minute. Annu added another goal within two minutes as SAI defence looked clueless against the Haryana strikers.
SAI regrouped after the break and gradually took control of the midfield. The fleet-footed SAI women used the flanks to pressurise the Haryana defence as it finally caved in and conceded a goal in the 24th minute. Gayatri Kissan tapped in from close after receiving a fine pass from the left and two minutes later Dung Dung Betan made it 2-3.
SAI was relentless in the second half as well, forcing Haryana to defend for major part of the half. Dung Dung Betan missed back-to-back chances in the 40th minute but made amends by slotting in the equaliser in the 42nd minute. SAI created more chances but failed to convert any of it as the match petered to a draw.
Madhya Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh Hockey Academy, Jharkhand and Punjab moved into the quarterfinals after winning their final league matches. Madhya Pradesh Hockey Academy routed Chhattisgarh 8-1; Madhya Pradesh trounced Himachal 4-0; Jharkhand edged out CRPF by a solitary goal and Punjab blanked Tamil Nadu 4-0.
Madhya Pradesh 4 (Akansha Singh 12, Manisha Chauhan 35, Karishma Singh 36, 50) bt Himachal 0; Haryana 3 (Deepika 5, 12, Annu 14) drew SAI 3 (Dung Dung Betan ( 28, 42, Gayatri Kissan 24); Karnataka 6 (M.G.Yashika 4, Anjali 36, R. Sushmitha 38, Soumyashree 54, K.S.Vidya 55, M.Devi 58) bt Rajasthan 0; Punjab 4 (Rajwinder Singh 4, 47, Jaspinder Kaur 10, Pooja Rani 34) bt Tamil Nadu 0; Jharkhand 1 (Albea Rani Toppo 3) bt CRPF 0; Madhya Pradesh Hockey Academy 8 (Jyoti Pal 3, 50, Kanchan Nidhi 9, Yogita Verma 11, Upasana SIngh 21, Anjali 27, Neeraj Rana 39, Sadhna Sengar 52) bt Chhattisgarh 1 (Aanchal Sahu 60).
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