Senior Men's National Hockey C'ships: Punjab, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra enter semifinals

Punjab and Karnataka registered victories in their respective quarterfinal matches of the 11th Hockey India Senior Men's National Championship on Saturday.

Punjab Captain Rupinder Pal Singh.   -  Special Arrangement

Punjab, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh and hosts Maharashtra moved into the semifinals with hard-fought wins in the 11th Hockey India Senior Men National Championship here on Saturday.

In the first quarterfinal, two-time champions Punjab left it late to down a gritty Chandigarh 2-1. Both goals were scored by the experienced Tokyo Olympic bronze medallist Rupinder Pal Singh.

After a goalless first half and the third quarter, Punjab broke the deadlock off a powerfully taken penalty corner by Rupinder Pal Singh (46th) that deflected off a defender into the roof of the goal.

Chandigarh levelled scores four minutes later when Arshdeep Singh (50th) deflected the ball into the Punjab goal 1-1.

Three minutes later, Rupinder's low drag-flick beat Chandigarh goalkeeper Jashandeep Singh with pace, which turned out to be the winner.

Later, Bengal and Karnataka were locked in an intense battle before the Southern state won 3-2 through a late winner by Ali Ansar A.M (58th) off a penalty corner.

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Bengal was first to go 1-0 through Alsem Lakra (9th), which was cancelled out by Karnataka's Mohd. Raheel (21st) to make it 1-1.

Harish Mutagar (30th) then put Karnataka ahead for the first time converting a penalty corner, before Bengal pulled levels via Abhishek Pratap Singh (40th) off a penalty corner.

Maharashtra took the last quarterfinal slot downing the Hockey Unit of Tamil Nadu with a 2-0 win in the shoot out after playing out a 2-2 draw at the end of full time.

The match played under lights had both Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu create opportunities enough but move the scoreboard. Against the run of play, hosts Maharashtra went 1-0 through Pratap Shinde (8th) with a successful penalty corner conversion. The goal was his 10th of the tournament and all coming off penalty corners.

Thereafter, it was Maharashtra keeper Akash Chikte who stood between a host of attacks which included reflex saves from the attempts off Silver Stalin S then it was a deflection to a stiff reverse flick by Joshua Benedict Wesley.

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At the other end, Tamil Nadu survived when Pratap Shinde tapped in the ball into the goal beating the Tamil Nadu keeper M Arun Prasadh by the narrowest of angles. However, the umpire felt otherwise denying the 'goal' and awarded a penalty corner instead.

Thereafter, Tamil Nadu gained the upper hand and scored the equaliser through Karthi S (46th) off a penalty corner and then added another two minutes later with a well-worked tap in to make it 2-1.

Maharashtra, thereafter, pushed hard and were rewarded when Taleb Shah (60th) squeezed in the equaliser to push the game into the shoot out.

For Maharashtra, Darshan Gawkar, Venkatesh Kenche scored twice, while Taleb Shah, Moses Pullanthara missed their attempts.

Tamil Nadu could not convert a single attempt from the shoot out and had Mareeswaran Sakthivel, Silver Stalin, Joshua Benedict Wesley and Karthi S.

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