Bangalore, Sept 30: Air India scored a hard-fought 4-2 win against Jharkhand to enter the semi-finals of Hockey India’s second senior men’s National hockey championship here on Sunday.
In the semi-finals to be played on Monday, Air India take on hosts and last year’s finalists Karnataka who earlier beat Tamil Nadu 2-0 while defending champions Haryana will clash with Punjab.
Haryana overcame a gritty Manipur 4-2 while Punjab put in a good second-half performance to defeat Railway Sports Control Board 5-1 after conceding an early goal.
Air India, who led 1-0 at the break, looked far from impressive as they struggled to find any rhythm or flow in their game and they were indebted to goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh who brought off several fine saves.
For Air India, Arjun Halappa struck twice while an own goal and a late strike by Shivendra Singh completed their tally while Jharkhand replied through Diwakar Ram and Anil Xaxa.
Arjun Halappa put Air India ahead in the 13th minute when he scored off a pass from AB Cheeyanna, but Jharkhand equalized when their drag-flick specialist Diwakar Ram converted a penalty corner in the 37th.
With the match evenly poised, Air India took the lead again when Shivendra Singh scored off a pass from Halappa in the 39th. Jharkhand kept their composure and attacked in waves to level the scores again when Xaxa slammed home the rebound after Ajitesh Roy’s try came off the post in the 58th.
Hardly had Jharkhand breathed a sigh of relief when Air India struck with Halappa flicking home from a 63rd minute penalty corner and three minutes later, Shivendra slammed home from top of the circle with the defence in disarray.
Air India coach, the iconic Dhanraj Pillay said: “It was a good game. All credit to Jharkhand for putting up an excellent display. We must thank our goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh who made some good saves. Overall, it was a good game by my team.”
The results (quarter-finals):
Haryana 4 (Bharat Chhikara 3rd, 6th; Mandeep Antil 43rd; Didar Singh 44th) beat Manipur 2 (Jayantakumar Meitel 31st, 60th) (Detailed Report Here).
Karnataka 2 (MK Mudappa 29th; PL Thimanna 32nd) beat Tamil Nadu 0 (Detailed Report Here).
Punjab 5 (Gurjinder Singh 12th, 47th; Gurbaj Singh 7th; Akashdeep Singh 31st; Prabhdeep Singh 52nd) beat Railway Sports Control Board (Indian Railways) 1 (B Horo 5th) (Detailed Report Here).
Air India 4 (Arjun Halappa 13th, 63rd; Shivendra Singh 39th, 66th) beat Jharkhand 2 (Diwakar Ram 37th, Anil Xaxa 58th).
Schedule of Semi Finals:
2:00PM – Punjab vs Haryana
4.30PM – Karnataka vs Air india
Hockey India Press Release