In an exciting quarterfinal match, Haryana defeated Madhya Pradesh through tie-breaker to enter the last four in the National women's hockey championship at the Motilal Nehru School of Sports hockey complex, here on Thursday.
Railways outplayed Uttar Pradesh 7-0, Punjab rallied to beat Karnataka 2-1 and Orissa edged past Jharkhand 1-0 in other quarterfinals engagements. Railways will meet Punjab, while Haryana will take on Orissa in the semifinals on Saturday.
Never did Haryana expect that in front of the home crowd it would be tested so severely by Madhya Pradesh. It was lucky to pull off a victory after bagging the tie-breaker 4-3. Meenakshi, Jaspreet, Surinder Kaur and Ramandeep hit the target for the host, while Raina, Ranjeeta and Rijuta scored for Madhya Pradesh.
With the scoreline reading 1-1 at the end of the regulation time, a huge drama unfolded when Madhya Pradesh forward Ranjeeta's goal in the dying moments was disallowed. The umpire, T. Asha, realised that she had signalled for the goal which was scored after the final hooter and then reversed her decision.
Madhya Pradesh was the better team in the keenly-fought contest, which saw six players from both teams being booked for green cards. The Madhya Pradesh forwards showed creativity to make several raids on the Haryana citadel and surprised the opposition with their pace and coordination.
The home side played well in patches. It struggled to find the right rhythm and lost possession very often. However, it took the lead at the stroke of the lemon break when Navjot converted a penalty corner. Pinky Devi fired in from a short corner to bring up the equaliser for Madhya Pradesh in the 59th minute.
Madhya Pradesh, nevertheless, paid the price for frittering away several good chances. Ranjeeta, who hit over the bar twice in the closing minutes, was the main show-spoiler.
In another neck-and-neck fight, an enterprising Orissa upset Jharkhand.
The young Orissa players covered the ground well with some hard running and gained from strong marking of their rivals.
Lilima (50th) was the lone scorer of the match. She gave a measured pass to Anupa, who took it past two Jharkhand defenders before retuning it back to her mate for completing the formalities.
The winning team, however, suffered a big loss as its right-winger Surabhi fractured her nasal bone due a freak accident. She will miss rest of the championship.
Punjab overcame a stiff challenge from Karnataka to make it to the semifinals. After being down by a goal in the 52nd minute when Kulsumbi struck home off a penalty corner, Punjab kept its cool and breached the strong Karnataka defence twice through Harmanjeet (59th) and Th. Anuradha (66th).
Railways had an easy outing against Uttar Pradesh. Jasjeet Kaur (14th, 28th, 44th) scored thrice and Deepika Thakur (seventh, 56th) and Saba Anjum (11th, 17th) netted a brace each.
Uttar Pradesh, nonetheless, would take heart from the fact that it contained the mighty Railways, which led 5-0 at half-time, in the second session. Some keen marking and replacing the goalkeeper (Shweta in place of Smriti) did the trick.
Keywords: National women's hockey championship