In a match which oscillated between freakish and sublime, Jharkhand held off Manipur to open its 64th Senior National hockey championship with a 4-2 victory here on Friday.
After the first-half stuttered to a close, the game came alive after the restart, with Manipur taking the lead.
A wild hit into the Jharkhand box from the half-line deflected off the stick of a defender, and flew past the Jharkhand custodian. An own-goal was awarded, amidst protest from the East-Zone champion.
Jharkhand pulled level just two minutes later, when Deepak Soreng turned his marker inside-out, and finished with a ferocious reverse-flick.
Then, in the 57th minute, Manipur’s T.H. Herojit took the ball to the corner, and smashed the ball across goal.
The optimistic attempt met a defender’s stick, and beat the goalkeeper Ritesh Dung Dung from an impossibly acute angle.
The third own-goal of the match helped Jharkhand restore parity once again.
With five minutes to go, Jharkhand’s Adnan Wasim grabbed the opportunity to make a run down the middle.
A quick pass found Rabindra Kujur, who beat his marker and scored at the far post.
A few minutes later, a give-and-go move between James Purty and Suman Tirkey gave the latter room in the ‘D’.
Tirkey pulled the trigger to ensure three points for his team.
Jharkhand 4 (Deepak Soreng, Rabindra Kujur, Suman Tirkey, OG) bt Manipur 2 (OG, OG).