Haryana opened its campaign in the second Hockey India Senior National championship with a straightforward, if ponderous, 2-1 victory over Bhopal in its Pool A match here on Sunday.
Didar Singh and Mandeep Antil scored in either half to give the defending champion the win after Affan Yousuf had put Bhopal ahead early on.
Bhopal stunned the opponent in the 10th minute when Yousuf, finding himself in space on the edge of the circle, drilled the ball into the top corner. Coach Sandeep Sangwan made immediate changes, introducing Didar and Arjun Antil, and pushing Bharat Chikara forward. It took only 10 minutes for parity to be restored. Haryana won two successive penalty corners, the second of which Didar converted.
Haryana grew into the contest towards the close of the first half, and went on to dominate possession after the interval. Nothing, however, came of that superiority.
It took another penalty corner, 15 minutes in, for Haryana to move into the lead.
If Didar had hitherto assumed drag-flicking duties, he left it to his younger brother Sardar Singh this time.
The skipper unleashed one of his favourite reverse-flicks, which Mandeep Antil deflected into the net.
Meanwhile, Odisha and Tamil Nadu drew their potentially critical fixture 2-2, meaning the quarterfinalist to emerge out of that group could eventually be decided on goal difference.
Arunachal Pradesh failed to turn up for its Pool C fixture with Chhattisgarh.
It is not known if Arunachal will arrive for its second match, scheduled for Monday.
While the future course of action was yet to be fully decided, Chhattisgarh would definitely be awarded three points, said Tournament Director Mohammed Muneer.
The results: Pool A: Maharashtra 2 (Irshad Mirza 64, Vijay Tapa 69) lost to Puducherry 7 (Kamala Kannan 5, 17, 43, 59, Karthigeyan 12, Jairaj 13, 53); Haryana 2 (Didar Singh 20, Mandeep Antil 51) bt Bhopal 1 (Affan Yousuf 10).
Pool C: Punjab 12 (Gurjinder Singh 9, Prabhdeep Singh 15, 43, OG 24, Talwinder Singh 25, 59, 61, Ravipal Singh 26, Akashdeep Singh 30, Sarvanjit Singh 50, 67, Vikramjit Singh 56) bt J&K 1 (OG 42).
Pool E: Rajasthan 6 (Naresh 14, 17, 54, OG 48, Harpreet 62, Jaisham 68) bt Nagaland 1(Keduneizo 29); Air India 4 (Sameer Dad 1, Prabodh Tirkey 23, 39, Vikas Pillay 70) bt MP 1 (Vikas Choudhry 19).
Pool G: Kerala 11 (Muhammed Murthla 2, 16, 47, 62, E. Sarin 6, 52, 57, S. Adarse 15, Joshan George 24, S.S. Vishnu 60, 63) bt Gujarat 0; Odisha 2 (Amit Rohitdas 12, Mikhal Barla 18) drew with Tamil Nadu 2 (Rupinderpal Singh 38, 43).