Sher-E-Punjab brought the curtains down on Karnataka Lions' fairytale journey in the World Series Hockey here on Sunday, securing a dominant 4-1 victory to sail into the final of the competition.
Although a partisan KSHA Stadium had taken much hope from an early Lions goal, Matthew Hotchkis, Harpreet Singh, Karamjit Singh and Prabhjot Singh buried the home side in untroubled fashion.
Lions drew first blood, but it was against the run of early play.
After Punjab had had a couple of shots on goal, Lions made the most of a defensive lapse at the other end. Full-back Harpreet was to blame for his weak attempt at blocking Innocent Kullu's cross-field shot; Naveen Kumar only had to tap it in.
Punjab, however, soon settled down, earning two quick penalty corners.
V.S. Vinaya spurned the first but Hotchkis scored the equaliser from the second, slotting a rebound in. Lions missed the injured Ravipal Singh's pace and invention on the night; Punjab ‘keeper Sukhjit Singh was barely called into action in the first half.
If the game had slowed down a touch in the first period, it exploded into life in the second. Punjab went ahead, deservedly, two minutes after the interval.
Karamjit Singh collected the ball on the edge of the circle before firing a thunderous shot into the roof of the net.
Prabhjot looked to have put his team further ahead not long after but his fine strike was disallowed.
At the other end, Lions could have drawn level but Jarnail missed a simple chance at the far post. Len Aiyappa had little opportunity to perform; on the first PC his side earned, Arjun Antil turned in a miserably weak push.
Punjab pressed on regardless, racking up the penalty corners. The third goal, though, remained elusive. There was even a penalty, but Devesh Chauhan saved from Matthew Hotchkis.
Just when it seemed Punjab could regret not having put the game to bed, drag-flicker Harpreet scored, converting the umpteenth penalty corner. Prabhjot imparted the scoreline further gloss with a clinical effort minutes from time. The result, however, was well beyond doubt by then.
The result: Karnataka Lions 1 (Naveen Kumar 11) lost to Sher-E-Punjab 4 (Matthew Hotchkis 17, Karamjit Singh 39, Harpreet Singh 60, Prabhjot Singh 68).
Keywords: World Series Hockey