It’s ironic that Sumeet Pal Singh, one of the best strikers of the 94th MCC-Murugappa Gold Cup All-India hockey tournament, missed a shot in sudden death, allowing Hockey Karnataka to win the semifinals 4-3 on Saturday.
The victory ensured that Hockey Karnataka made its maiden final against Indian Railways, which shut out Punjab National Bank (PNB) 3-2 in another last-four clash.
During the shoot-out, both teams were tied at 2-2. In the sudden death round, S. V. Sunil and Nikin Thimmaiah scored for Karnataka, while Jobanpreet Singh scored for Army. However, despite wrong-footing the goalkeeper, Sumeet’s shot went just wide.
Karnataka XI won the title in Chepauk in the 1980s, but in 2017, it was Bangalore Hockey Association that reached the final.
This match showcased the most impressive display of strategy and tactics throughout the tournament. The Army team scored the opening goal in the first quarter due to a defensive mistake by Karnataka. Rahul intercepted the ball and made a pass to Rajant, who scored the goal. Karnataka managed to equalize in the second quarter with a goal from Chelsea Medappa.
Both teams played with rare intensity and passion, attacking and defending equally. However, the sore point was the absence of a specialist drag flicker in both teams. Army had six penalty corners but failed to convert any of them.
PNB didn’t pose a challenge to Indian Railways, which won the game comfortably. Gursimran Singh’s goal in the dying minutes was a mere consolation.
The results (semifinals):
Hockey Karnataka 1 (Chelsea Medappa 22) drew with Indian Army 1 (Rajant 9). Karnataka won on penalties 4-3.
Indian Railways 3 (Pratap Lakra 3, Anugrah Kujur 10, Arjun Sharma 55) bt PNB 2 (Sanjay 17, Gursimran Singh 59).
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