Railways and Haryana will resume their rivalry for supremacy, playing their fourth final in as many years, after winning their respective semi-finals of the fourth Hockey India women’s National championships at the Aishbagh Stadium here on Saturday.
Railways started slow, struggling to break past a stubborn Punjab defence. But once the doors opened, it was a goal-fest, with Railways winning 11-1.
Captain Chanchan was the top-scorer with four goals. The Railways line-up can be mistaken for that of India and played like one.
For the first 27 minutes of the game it took shots at the goal, created penalty corners and restricted the game mainly to the Punjab half — everything except scoring goals.
Punjab goalkeeper Jagdeep Kaur was outstanding. Punjab managed a couple of shots, but half-chances that went waste.
Jasjeet Kaur’s sharp hit from the left just inside the circle in the 27th minute broke the deadlock. In the next eight minutes, Railways slammed in three more, taking control.
Post break, Punjab regrouped, taking advantage of a change of guard in the goal to strike in the 39th minute — the first goal against Railways in the tournament.
Punjab got a stroke 12 minutes later but Gurjit Kaur sent the ball over. Railways then stepped up, slamming in seven more goals to rout its hapless opponent and send a warning to Haryana, which beat Jharkhand 7-3 in the other semifinal.
That game turned around in the last 10 minutes. Jharkhand’s strength was defence and speedy counter-attacks but the team faltered in both.
Jharkhand opened the scoring when Poonam Barla shot to the far end from the left in the 10th minute.
But the defending champion levelled through a penalty corner immediately on counter.
India captain Ritu Rani, playing left out, was the fulcrum of Haryana attack.
The team’s first three goals were all created by her. Jharkhand realized she had to be stopped and thereafter, all its attempts came from the other flank.
Post break, Jharkhand went on attack straightaway, scoring its third goal. Haryana, in contrast, appeared lethargic and off target.
Ritu played a lone hand, attempting repeated shots at the goal but with no support, they mattered little.
Haryana’s fifth goal in the 60th minute changed the game. Ritu’s shot from just inside the striking circle was guided in by Jharkhand’s Poonam and that disintegrated the team.
Jharkhand simply withered away, opening gaps in the defence, losing possession and focus, as Haryana scored two more to complete the formalities.
The results (semifinals): Railways 11 (Chanchan 4, Jasjeet Kaur 2, Poonam Rani 2, Anupa Barla 2, Rani Rampal) bt Punjab 1 (Gurjit Kaur).
Haryana 7 (Navneet Kaur 3, Ritu Rani, Navjot Kaur, Bharti, Manjit Kaur) bt Jharkhand 3 (Poonam Barla 2, Binita Xess).