Pune: An inspired bunch of Maharashtra hockey players achieved one of the best result in the recent past when the home team defeated strong Haryana 4-1 in a Pool C league match in the 5th Hockey India Senior Men’s National Hockey championship for ‘A’ Division at the Balewadi Hockey Ground here on Tuesday.
Coached by Olympian Ajit Lakra, the Maharashtra team performed beyond their potential to completely outsmart Haryana, who had come in to the match on the back of wins over a resilient Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.
A win for Haryana against Maharashtra would have sealed their place in the semifinal, but Maharashtra had other ideas right from the start. Captain Vishal Pillay led by example when he put Maharashtra 1-0 up by converting a penalty corner in the 20th minute.
The slender 1-0 lead was itself a stark reminder for Haryana that they were in for surprises as the match wore on. Arjun struck one for Haryana five minutes after the half-time, but Maharashtra were not taking it sitting down.
Ashish Chetty combined well with his captain Vishal Pillay as did Basant Pillay, Ruben Kedari and Vinod Nair.
The five Maharashtra players played their heart out to give Haryana a rude awakening. Vinit Kamble let in one off a field effort in the 39th minute to give Maharashtra 2-1 lead before Navneet Swarnkar (42nd) and Ashish Chetty (56th) put paid to Haryana hopes.
Uttar Pradesh beat Tamil Nadu
Haryana’s loss was impetus of Uttar Pradesh to go all out against Tamil Nadu. Having lost to Haryana, it was imperative for Uttar Pradesh to pump in goals as the Pool C was left wide open following Maharashtra’s win.
Penalty corner expert Sunil Yadav scored a hat-trick and then completed a quadruple as Uttar Pradesh went 4-0 up. Yadav’s goals came in the second, 17th and 30th minutes as Uttar Pradesh took the half-time break at 3-0 before he returned and slotted in yet another in the 35th minute.
Lalit Upadhyay (36th) and Deepak Yadav (50th) scored more goals for Uttar Pradesh as Tamil Nadu was left to rue their fate. M Vinod Kumar (45th) and V Raja (51st) scored consolation goals for Tamil Nadu.
Gangpur, CAG of India win
Earlier in the morning, Gangpur, Odisha defeated Jharkhand 4-2 to leave the Pool B qualification wide open. Jharkhand, who came into the match with two wins, needed to win, but Gangpur boys had other ideas.
Roshan Minz struk two goals, one each on either side of half-time in a tense match that was 2-2 at the break.
Wilson Minz (10th) and Nikash Toppo (57th) scored for Gangpur, while it was captain Chandrashekhar Xalxo who fired back-to-back goals in the first half to make the match alive.
In the same pool, Comptroller and Auditor General of India defated Bhopal 4-2 thanks to Imran Khan’s two goals.
Railways draw, Mumbai win
The Food Corporation of India (FCI) held Railways to a 1-1 draw in a match that clearly belonged to the FCI. They were unlucky to be denied a goal in the fourth quarter when the referee deemed it above shoulder height.
It was the FCI which took the lead through Munish Rana in the 17th minute on a set piece that left Railways defence dumbfounded. Railways seemed complacent for most part of the match and it was only after Amit Rohidas scored an equalizer that the match came into life.
FCI threatened Railways more times, but were denied by poor finishing.
Earlier, Mumbai made two out of two when they beat cheeky Karnataka 2-1 to take their points tally to 6. Railways are on 7 from two wins and a draw, but have just one match remaining against Mumbai.
Gangpur, Odisha 4 (Roshan Minz 2nd, 53rd, Wilson Minz 10th, Bikash Toppo 57th) beat Jharkhand 2 (Chandrashekhar Xalxo 15th, 20th). HT: 2-2.
Comptroller and Auditor General of India 4 (Mohammed Maeemuddin 6th, Imran Khan 8th, 38th, Chandan Singh 27th) beat Bhopal 2 (Osaf-ur-Rahman 36th, 58th). HT: 3-0.
Maharashtra 4 (Vishal Pillay 20th, Vinit Kamble 39th, Navneet Swarnkar 42nd, Ashish Chetty 56th) beat Haryana 1 (Arjun 35th). HT: 1-0.
Uttar Pradesh 6 (Sunil Yadav 2nd, 17th, 30th, 35th, Lalit Upadhyay36th, Deepak Yadav 50th) beat Tamil Nadu 2 (M Vinod Rayar 45th, V Raja 51st). HT: 3-0.
Mumbai 2 (Devinder Walmiki 17th, Victo Singh 55th) beat Karnataka 1 (Pradhan Somanna 48th). HT: 1-0.
Railways 1(Amit Rohidas 33rd) drew with Food Corporation of India 1 (Munish Rana 17th). HT: 0-1.
Wednesday’s fixtures at National ‘A’ Hockey championship:
Pool A: MP Hockey Academy v Andhra Pradesh (7.30 am)
Pool A: Odisha v Sports Authority of India (9 am)
Pool B: Bhopal v Gangpur, Odisha (2pm)
Pool B: Indian Universities v Jharkhand (3.30 pm)
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