Pune: Amit Rohidas fired three goals in a space of 20 minutes to steer Railways to a fighting 5-3 title win over Uttar Pradesh in the 5th Hockey India Senior Men’s National Hockey championship for ‘A’ Division at the Balewadi Hockey Ground here on Tuesday.
Rohidas opened the scoring for Railways in the ninth minute and then just let loose on Uttar Pradesh’s defensive lapses as Railways rightfully etched their name on the National Hockey Championship—a just reward for beating the defending champion Air India in the semifinals.
Talwinder Singh (17th minute) and Affan Yusuf (27th) also scored for Railways, whose all the goals came in the first half.
Uttar Pradesh, who played in front of their Sports Minister Anurag Badoriya, would take solace from the fact that their striker Sunil Yadav emerged top goal-scorer of the tournament with 10 goals.
Yadav scored two goals, one each on the either side of the half-time before Danish Mujtaba fired in a blinder to give Uttar Pradesh some glint of a chance, but Railways defended well to in the fourth quarter.
The final began with Uttar Pradesh taking the initiative first to almost stun the Railways. Mujtaba ran from the left wing with his heart out, but just failed to reach the cross that Arjun Yadav had sent in from the right.
Railways goalkeeper Susant Tirkey was completely out of sight.
Soon after Railways went on counterattack and Affan Yusuf had a go with a reverse flick. A Uttar Pradesh defender blocked the ball with his feet after realizing that his goalkeeper Devesh Chauhan was completely beaten by the flow of the events. Umpire immediately pointed towards the spot and Rohidas coolly scooped the ball into the roof to put Railways ahead.
Railways on rampage
Soon after the opening goal was scored, Railways changed their gear and went on the offensive.
Captain Gurpreet Singh began the move from the centre and sent a cross to Affan in the left who set up Nilakanta Sharma in front of the goal. But Sharma was stopped in his tracks wrongly, but the resultant penalty corner was wasted.
Two minutes later Nilakanta set up Talwinder Singh on the left, who turned to control the ball before slotting in the empty goal for 2-0 lead.
It was soon 3-0 when Railways scored off a long corner as Rohidas chanced upon a loose ball to tap it into the goal.
Rattled by the barrage of goals, Uttar Pradesh began a rescue mission that saw the eventual top scorer of the championship, Sunil Yadav, converting a penalty corner with a neat grounder in the 25th minute.
Railways shot back though Affan Yusuf two minutes later and then made it 5-1 at the stroke of half-time through Rohidas, who surpassed Yuvraj Walmiki as the top scorer for Railways.
Uttar Pradesh rally
Down 1-5, Uttar Pradesh showed they were not giving up the match just as yet. Sunil Yadav struck home soon after the half-time to make it 5-2 and then Mujtaba scored to bridge the gap to 5-3.
Uttar Pradesh played some good hockey towards the end creating several chances, but Railways must thank their goalkeeper Sushant Tirkey, who saved at least half-a-dozen attempts in the regulation play.
Air India wins bronze medal
Air India made amends to losing their grip of the title they had won in 2014 by winning the play-off for the third place. Up against Gangpur, Odisha, Air India let known their intentions right from the start when seasoned Sameer Dad drew the first blood in the fifth minute of the match.
The eventual player-of-the-match, Sameer Dad played the role of playmaker creating chances in abundance for Air India, whose coach Dhanraj Pillay was still seething from the semifinal loss against Railways on Sunday.
Seasoned former India player Vikram Pillay then made it 2-0 in favour of Air India, but Gangpur shot back soon after through Roshan Minz in the 15th minute.
Dad, however, would not give up that easily. Two minutes later after Gangpur reduced the lead, Dad fired in his second goal to put Air India 3-1 ahead for the half-time lead.
Soon after resumption though Gangpur pulled one back through Pratap Lakra in the 33rd minute before the teams went in break after the third quarter. Hard working Arman Qureshi finally got his seventh goal of the championship in the 49th minute and then Gaganpreet Singh scored his sixth goal of the Nationals here to give Air India 5-2 lead.
Pratap Lakra then scored a consolation goal two minutes from the regulation time, but that was all Gangpur could do against Air India.
Brig. Anurag Bhasin, Cmdt, BEG & Centre, Kirkee.
Mr. R. P. Singh Sirecor of sports, UP & Secretary Hockey Uttar Pradesh
Mr. Anurag singh Badoriya, Minister of State for Sports, UP
Mrs. Arnawaz Damania, Former President of Women’s Hockey
Mr. Sanjay Kakade, MP
Mrs. Medha Kulkarni, MLA
Padmashree, Dhanraj Pillay
Padmashree Ignace Tirkey
Mr. Balasaheb Landge, Secretary General, MOA
Mr. Namdeo Shirgaonkar, Executive Member IOA
Mr. Bharat Kumar, Sr. General Manager Marketing, BOM
Mr. Clarence Lobo, Former India Coach.
Railways 5 (Amit Rohidas 9th, 21st, 29th, Talwinder Singh 17th, Affan Yusuf 27th) beat Uttar Pradesh 3 (Sunil Yadav 25th, 39th, Danish Mujtaba 38th). HT: 5-1.
Player-of-the-match: Amit Rohidas
Air India 5 (Sameer Dad 5th, 17th, Vikram Pillay 8th, Arman Qureshi 49th, Gaganpreet Singh 56th) beat Gangpur, Odisha 3 (Roshan Minz 15th, Pratap Lakra 33rd, 58th). HT: 3-1.
Player-of-the-match: Sameer Dad
Best Goalkeeper: Arpit Choudhary (Jharkhand)
Best Defender: Amit Rohidas (Railways)
Best Mid-fielder: Jasjit Singh (Railways)
Best Forward: Lali Upadhyay (Uttar Pradesh)
Promising player of the championship: Vikramjit Singh (Punjab)
Promising player from Maharashtra: Akash Chikte (Goalkeeper)
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