Railways avenged last year’s defeat to Haryana with a 4-0 win in the final of the 4th Hockey India women’s National Championships here on Sunday. The star-studded favourite was clearly committed to reclaim the title.
Railways got its first chance in the third minute through a penalty corner, but failed to convert it. Shackled by some tight marking, Railways was unable to find the gaps.
Haryana, with more than 70 per cent of its players drawn from various Railways units, knew its opposition well and was content with the occasional counter-attack. The waiting game suited Haryana.
One of the counter-attacks almost gave Haryana the lead in the 22nd minute, but Ritu Rani’s back pass on the run went wide.
It took an angular shot from Vandana Katariya in a goalmouth melee in the 25th minute to break the deadlock. Railways went into break with a 2-0 lead, Chanchan scoring from a deflection.
Post break, Railways played with more purpose and planning. The defence tightened up with Kirandeep Kaur falling back and Jasjeet changing to a supporting role as right half. The team changed its game plan and started attacking from the flanks. It paid off.
Haryana’s defence became shaky and the superior skills of Railways players helped them play a short-passing game to elude their markers.
Railways added two more goals in the second half through Vandana and Poonam Rani.
“I told them they were India players but it wasn’t visible in their performance.
“There was early pressure but I am glad they were able to lift their game,” said Railways coach Pritam Siwach.
In the third place playoff, a dominant Jharkhand beat Punjab 5-0 .
The results: Final: Railways 4 (Vandana Katariya 2, Chanchan, Poonam Rani) bt Haryana 0.
Third-place playoff: Jharkhand 5 (Kabita Maurya 2, Poonam Barla, Birsi Mundu, Binita Xess) bt Punjab 0.
Player of the tournament: Monika (Haryana); Best forward: Poonam Barla (Jharkhand); Best defender: Deepika (Railways); Best goalkeeper: Savita (Haryana); Top-scorer: Navneet Kaur (Haryana).