Holders Punjab will take on Karnataka while Air India will face Haryana in the semifinals of the third Hockey India Senior Men’s National Championship. The championship is being played at the Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex and Major Dhyan Chand Hockey stadium.
In the four quarter-finals played on Saturday,Air India snatched a 5-4 win over Railways Sports Control Board. Defending champions,Punjab,made short work of Jharkhand,thrashing them 6-0. Karnataka scored a 4-2 win over a fighting Manipur while Haryana recorded a 4-1 victory over Chandigarh.
In one of the closest matches of the day,Air India scraped past a fighting Railway Sports Control Board by a wafer-thin 5-4 margin. Air India scored two goals within a span of 21 minutes with Somanna Pradhan and captain Vinaya Swamy sounding the board,Gagandeep Singh scored a scorcher for the Railways in the 27th minute to reduce the score to 1-2. Air India fired two more goals via Joga Singh in the 30th minute and Arjun Hallapa in the 35th minute to lead 4-1. But Railways came back solidly with B Horo deftly flicking in a goal from the right in the 37th minute. Railways captain Sanjay Bir slammed in a field goal in the 41st minute and then Jassjeet Singh converted a penalty corner in the 43rd minute to draw level.
Watched by their coach,Dhanraj Pillay,Air India’s Somanna Pradhan scored a goal after a fumble by the Railways defender in the 60th minute,to wrap up the match and secure passage for Air India into the last four.
In another interesting match,Karnataka proved too strong for Manipur,outplaying them 4-2. BS Bidappa converted a penalty corner for Karnataka in the 13th minute to give Karnataka the lead. Manipur forward,M Amarjit,made valiant bids to breach the Karnataka defence,but was starved of support in the attacking third. In the 17th minute,MG Ponacha’s attempt was saved by Manipur goalkeeper A Himat,but in the 19th minute,Nikkin Thimaiyya scored off a reverse pass by Mohan Muthanna to make the score 2-0.
In the second half,Manipur struck back in the 37th minute when K Suresh dribbled past three Karnataka defenders and then bet the keeper with a cheeky finish to reduce the margin to 2-1. However,in the 41st minute,a swift move by MB Aiyappa helped Karnataka take a 3-1 lead,followed by a MG Poonacha push which hit defender K Suresh and trickled into the Manipur goal. In the 65th minute N Ganendrajit scored for Manipur to make score 4-2
Title holders,Punjab,outplayed Jharkhand 6-0 with Sarvanjit Singh,Gurjinder Singh,skipper Ravipal Singh and Inderjeet Singh scoring a goal each. Former India international Deepak Thakur continued to show his good form in the tournament as he slammed home a brace to give Punjab a comfortable victory.
In the last quarter-final,Hockey Haryana reverted from their 0-1 down position to score a 4-1 win over Chandigarh. Mandeep Antil,Shivdeep,Jagwant and Hansraj scored for the winners. Lakhwinder Singh scored the lone goal for Chandigarh.