Narinder slots home twice in a sensational 4-1 rout of the defending champion

It was the biggest upset of the tournament, and it came in the final. Underdog Haryana thumped star-studded Railways 4-1 to win the National women’s hockey championship at the Guru Govind Singh Sports College here on Tuesday.

Railways appeared strangely subdued, misfiring throughout and unable to attack with precision or defend with purpose. Never before in recent times has one seen a Railways women’s team play with such lack of authority or planning.

Haryana was on the attack from the word go, knowing well that any display of weakness would be punished. Haryana came close to taking lead twice within the first five minutes but could not score.

In fact, it was Railways that opened the scoring, when Amadeep Kaur deflected the ball in after being put through by Jasjeet Kaur in the 15th minute. It was only the second time Railways broke through into the circle, and the defending champion finally looked like getting its rhythm back.

But Haryana was up to the task. Udita capitalised on a defensive lapse to lift the ball into the net at the stroke of half-time to level scores.

The second half was all about Haryana.

Railways boasts a line-up that is made up mostly of India team players, but none of them played as expected. Interestingly, most of the players from both sides belong to the Shahbad district of Haryana, and are familiar with each other’s strengths and weaknesses.

But, while the youngsters of the Haryana side backed themselves, having nothing to lose, Railways stuttered and failed.

Railways earned seven penalty corners post break but failed to score. Haryana goalkeeper Nancy blocked three of the shots and deflected the rest.

Haryana captain Harpreet — also a Railways recruit — marshalled the midfield effectively, passing brilliantly and managing to keep ball possession.

With the dangerous Jasjeet Kaur constantly marked by two players, blunting the Railways’ attack, Narinder put Haryana ahead in the 47th minute after being put through by Harpreet. Narinder then made it 3-1 two minutes later after being left unmarked on the left flank.

Bharti completed the tally in the 65th minute to effectively complete the rout.

“Even, we did not expect (victory by) such a big margin,” a beaming Haryana coach Azad Singh Malik said.

“We could not combine well, we played badly, what else can I say,” admitted a downcast Asunta Lakra, the senior-most player of Railways, adding that she has never been part of such a huge defeat in her 10 years with Railways.

In the classification match for third place, Jharkhand overcame a fighting Punjab to win 2-1. Jharkhand was expected to roll over Punjab but was as disjointed as Railways.

Sarita Lakra was impressive for Jharkhand with her accurate passing through gaps to create chances but the forwards were profligate, wasting chances by the dozen.

The results: Final: Haryana 4 (Narinder-2, Udita, Bharti) bt Railways 1 (Amandeep Kaur).

For third place: Jharkhand 2 (Ebha Kerketta, Basanti Kachhap) bt Punjab 1 (Sukhjit Kaur).

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