Defending champions Haryana set to face Punjab in final
Haryana took the lead in the third quarter through Abishek’s neat footwork on the left side of the field, dodging two TN defenders before slotting the ball home.
CHENNAI: Defending Champions Haryana will face a formidable Punjab Hockey team in the finals of the Senior Nationals Hockey Championship in Chennai on Tuesday.
In the first semi-final on Monday, Haryana played host Tamil Nadu and were made to work to defend its one goal lead, which was equalized in the dying seconds of the fourth quarter by Tamil Nadu.
National team forward Abhishek played a crucial role for Haryana, keeping TN’s goalkeeper Dhinakaran on his toes for most of the match. Haryana took the lead in the third quarter through Abishek’s neat footwork on the left side of the field, dodging two TN defenders before slotting the ball home.
“We missed a lot of opportunities, I know how every important every chance was so I remained calm and focused and hit the ball towards the goal and thankfully it went in,” said Abhishek speaking to DT Next about his goal in the regulation time.
Tamil Nadu had four penalty corner (PC) opportunities, they capitalised on the fourth one in the dying seconds of the game when they reviewed an infringement inside the box while taking a flick. With just one second left on the clock, BP Somanna scored from Mareeswaran Sakthivel’s push from the end line, sending the local crowd into a frenzy.
The match got extended to penalty shootout after regulation time had scores level at 1-1. TN’s Kanagaraj and Selvam Karthi failed to convert their penalties and therefore Haryana won the shoot-out 4-2 and will face Punjab in the final.
“It’s a semi-final; there is pressure on both the sides. Tamil Nadu changed the course of the match in the final seconds by scoring. Our team is prepared mentally for the final on Tuesday, we’ll match Punjab’s match later this evening and then we’ll work on how to counter and stop them,” said Abhishek.
Harmanpreet’s double sends Punjab to Final
An experienced Punjab side scored five goals in the second semi-final to send Karnataka packing. Although Karnataka showed intent, it wasn’t enough to counter a Punjab side that boasted the likes of Harmanpreet Singh and Akashdeep, amongst others.
Indian team captain Harmanpreet Singh came into the tournament a little sick but didn’t show any signs of it as he scored another two goals against Karnataka. He scored his first goal of the night with a push from the end line by Akashdeep Singh, which he powerfully slotted in the top right corner. His second goal was also a composed finish off a penalty corner.
Shamsher Singh, Akashdeep, Sukhjeet Singh, and Harmanpreet all got on the scoresheet for Punjab; Abharan Sudev scored Karnataka’s solitary goal.