Jharkhand narrowly survived a scare against Chandigarh to open its campaign in the 2nd Hockey India senior National championships with a 2-1 victory at the MEG grounds here on Wednesday.

After going behind to a Harmanpreet Singh strike in the first half, Jharkhand pulled ahead through goals by Anil Xaxa and Birendra Lakra and clung on for dear life as Chandigarh desperately chased an equaliser.

Chandigarh, which had come close through Deepanshu Bhargava, duly took the lead in the 22nd minute when captain Harmanpreet slotted in from a tight angle on the left.

Quick equaliser

Minz and Shashi Topno led Jharkhand’s fightback, with the leveller arriving seven minutes later.

The former’s strike drew a sharp save from goalkeeper Shamsher Singh but Xaxa was on hand to tap the ball in.

Chandigarh seemed to tire slightly in the second period and went behind when the defence was caught leaden-footed. Banmali Xess’s ball found Lakra in space, and the latter finished with ease.

Chandigarh was awarded a couple of penalty corners towards the close, but Jharkhand somehow held on.

Haryana became the third team to progress to the quarterfinals, after a 2-2 draw with Maharashtra handed the defending champion an unassailable lead at the top of Pool A.

Meanwhile, Chhattisgarh was expelled the championship for an off-field indiscipline.

The results: Pool A: Haryana 2 (Bharat Chikkara 17, Sardar Singh 58) drew with Maharashtra 2 (Narad Bahadur 25, Irshad Mirza 48); Bhopal 6 (Irfan 7, Faisal Hassan 32, 42, Affan Yousuf 46, 56, Imran Yousuf 61) bt Puducherry 2 (Kartikeyan 5, Harikrishnan 69).

Pool B: Karnataka 21 (OG 3, S.K. Uthappa 4, 51, 53, Mohan Muthanna 21, 28, 54, 61, 64, M.K. Mudappa 25, 30, 39, 49, 56, 59, 63, K.M. Somanna 33, 66, P.L. Thimmanna 39, M.B. Aiyappa 60, Nikin Thimmaiah 65) bt Mizoram 0; Delhi 5 (Avtar Singh Mann 4, Pawan Singh Chouhan 31, 49, Abhishek 33, Mohit 43) bt Himachal Pradesh 3 (Rajesh Kumar 25, Sarbjit Singh 55, Balaram Kumar 65).

Pool C: Services 18 (Sanwar Ali 4, 8, 39, Arumugam 7, Pradhan Muthanna 14, 16, 63, Lovepreet Singh 25, 30, 40, S.V. Sunil 26, 42, Bharat Singh 31, 35, 59, Sairaj Alira 45, 52, 62) bt J&K 0. Pool D: SSB 14 (Kishore Lakmira 4, 20, 15, 27, Ajit Singh 14, 51, Joychandra Singh 23, Pradeep Kumar Singh 35, 53, 69, Surchandra 39, L. Suresh Singh 41, Noacha Singh 42, Romi Kumar 44) bt Goa 0; Jharkhand 2 (Anil Xaxa 29, Birendra Lakra 43) bt Chandigarh 1 (Harmanpreet 22).

Pool H: Manipur 16 (Jayant Kumar 1, 2, 45, 60, Romen 7, 68, Hera Singh 10, Chittaranjan 20, 61, 69, Ganbama 25, 53, Amarjit Singh 37, Kiran Kumar Singh 44, Abung Singh 54, Dayanand Singh 58) bt A&N 0; Bihar 1 (Md. Riazuddin 27) drew with Combined Universities 1 (Gurpreet). Pool F: Railways 21 (Sanjay Bir Singh 4, 34, 44, 51, 52, 54, 56, 59, Innocent Kullu 15, 30, 40, S. Chinglensana 17, 29, B. Horo 19, Victo Singh 35, 57, Sunil Kumar 39, 61, 66, Malak Singh 55, Vivek Dhar 60) bt Tripura 0; UP 9 (Jayakaran 11, Chouhan 15, 28, Md. Amir Khan 23, 67, Thushar Khandekar 51, Kamlesh Rai 52, Imran Khan 54, 63) bt Assam 1 (Pasumatary Pankaj 70).

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