Pune: Punjab outfits Patiala and Namdhari XI scored wins in the respective semifinals to set up all-Punjab summit clash in the National ‘B’ of the 5th Hockey India Senior Men’s National Hockey championship at the Balewadi Hockey Ground here on Tuesday.
In form Patiala defeated Himachal 4-1 in the first semifinal, while Namdhari XI shut out Chandigarh with a 3-1 win later in the afternoon to book their berths in the final.
Both Patiala and Namdhari XI, by virtue of being the finalists in National ‘B’, were promoted to National ‘A’ for the year 2016 National Hockey Championship.
There were unexpected guests at hockey semifinals when key members of the Kings XI Punjab support staff—Craig Cozier, Simon Doull, Kepler Wessells and HD Ackerman—who are staying at a hotel close by, dropped in to watch the matches.
Namdharis played true to their class after having gone through a rough quarterfinal match against the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) on Monday.
There were no ifs and but on Tuesday as Namdhari went ahead in the fourth minute through Gagandeep Singh. Captain Kuldeep Singh scored on third attempt on a penalty corner just one minute before the half-time.
There were little skirmishes in the third quarter, but Namdhari held firm before Gagandeep fired his second goal for 3-0 lead. Chandigarh tried their best to sneak in, but their attempts were foiled by ever-alert Namdhari XI goalkeeper Jaswant Singh.
Lovedeep Singh finally found a consolation goal for Chandigarh in the 52nd minute of the match, but that was all Chandigarh to extract from Namdharis.
Patiala’s all-round show
Patiala showed they were best in the business when it comes to playing hockey. Himachal, who were lucky to make it to the semifinals after their quarterfinal match against Manipur went into sudden death, were completely taken by surprise as Patiala went on the offensive from the start.
Player-of-the-match Manijinder Kumar drew the first blood when he scored in the 10th minute of the match. Harwinder Singh made it 2-0 six minutes later on a move created by Satiwinder Singh and Manjinder Kumar.
Himachal had hardly recovered from the setbacks when Amritpal Singh put Patiala 3-0 up one minute from the half-time. The relentless attacks continued unabated and Patiala were able to force yet another goal when Ajay Kumar struck in the 30th minute for 4-0 half-time lead.
Himachal seemed to have regrouped and showed better coordination when they took the ground after half-time.
The third quarter was hotly contested and Himachal was able to thwart Patiala’s attacks. Gursharn Singh and Amandeep Singh made several forays in tandem with Manjinder Kumar, but Himachal defence stood firm.
Two minutes into the fourth and final quarter, Himachal earned a penalty stroke when Hardeep Singh was fouled inside the semi-circle. Hardeep coolly put the ball into the net, but that turned to be the only goal for Himachal, who tried every bit to bridge the gap, but in vain.
Vinod Durga, Naveen Kumar and Naurvi created some chances, but failed to find the target.
Patiala 4 (Manjinder Kumar 10th, Harwinder Singh 16th, Amritpal Singh 29th, Ajay Kumar 30th) beat Himachal 1 (Hardeep Singh 47th). HT: 4-0
Player-of-the-match: Manjinder Kumar (Patiala)
Namdhari XI 3 (Gagandeep Singh 4th, 44th, Kuldeep Singh 29th) beat Chandigarh 1 (Lovedeep Singh 52nd). HT: 2-0
Player-of-the-match: Udhampreet Singh (Namdhari XI)
Wednesday’s fixtures at National ‘B’ Hockey championship:
Third-place match: Himachal v Chandigarh at 1.30 pm
Final: Patiala v Namdhari XI at 3.30 pm
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