Karnataka rode on Deepak Beijawad’s insatiable appetite for penalty corners to capture the 64th senior National hockey championship here on Thursday.
Karnataka has won this Rangaswamy Cup (donated by The Hindu group in 1951) for the first time since the inaugural edition in 1928.
At the floodlit KSHA Stadium, Beijawad (who has converted eight penalty corners and one penalty stroke in this tournament) pulled the host through with a brace, after the teams were tied at 1-1 at half-time.
The captain’s first goal came three minutes into the second-half, with a thunderous flick at the left post. Twenty minutes later, another penalty corner was awarded to Karnataka. This time, Uttar Pradesh had a plan to counter Beijawad. Diwakar Ram was positioned to man the left post, but the ferocity of the shot saw the ball thud into goal off Ram’s stick.
Earlier, an electric run by K.R. Umesh brought Karnataka the lead. Off a pass from Bijju Yirkal, Umesh dribbled the ball from just inside the half-line all the way into the ‘D’. A quick halt, followed by a reverse-flick, flew past the Uttar Pradesh goalkeeper.
A goal of equal quality brought Uttar Pradesh level. From the edge of the box, Imran Khan lifted his head for just a moment to take stock of his position, and then came down hard with a powerful hit.
The Beijawad show then began, and it was curtains for Uttar Pradesh.
In the 3rd-place play-off match, an instinctive goal by Victo Singh took Mumbai past Punjab in a match which was decided in a penalty shootout.
The Karnataka team received Rs. 1 lakh from L.T. Nanwani, the owner of World Series Hockey team Chennai Cheetahs, and R.K. Shetty, the IHF Chairman. The runner-up was awarded Rs. 50,000 by the same duo (in an individual capacity). The winner also received Rs. 1 lakh from the KSHA, who wished to honour the team for clinching this prestigious trophy for the first time in its history. A further Rs. 25,000 was presented to the team by KSHA office-bearer, N.S. Basavaraj.
The results: Final: Karnataka 3 (Deepak Beijawad 2, K.R. Umesh) bt Uttar Pradesh 1 (Imran Khan).
3rd place play-off: Mumbai 2 (Upendra Pillay, Vikram Singh) bt Punjab 2 (Sanjeev Kumar 2) (Extra-time score: 0-0, Mumbai won in penalty shootout).
Individual prizes: Best goalkeeper: Sudhir Dixit (Mumbai), Best defender: Deepak Beijawad (Karnataka), Best half-back: Y. Nagasrinu (Karnataka), Best forward: Satwinder Singh (Punjab), Top goal-scorer: Victo Singh (Mumbai, 12 goals), Player of the championship: Diwakar Ram (Uttar Pradesh).
Keywords: senior national hockey championship