SPORT

Haryana women retain title

STRIKE: Haryana's Jasjeet (No. 18) scores one past a crowded Jharkhand defence in the final. Photo: R. Ragu  

S. Sabanayakan

GUWAHATI: In a battle between two teams packed with internationals, defending champion Haryana played to a plan to hand last Games' runner-up Jharkhand a 4-1 defeat to win the women's hockey gold in the 33rd National Games at the Maulana Md. Tayebulla Stadium here on Saturday.

The victory gave Haryana a three-in-a-row triumph in these Games. Having lost to Maharashtra at the 1999 Imphal Games 0-1, Haryana turned the tide against Maharashtra at Ludhiana 2-0. The winning streak, which began then, continued when Haryana beat Jharkhand at Hyderabad 4-0.

Good trapping, accurate passing and quick-silver moves were the highlight of Haryana's win. With two dependable defenders, Suman Bala and Rajwinder Kaur, holding fort the Jharkhand forwards found it tough to break into the striking circle.

Forwardline

The three-woman forwardline of Simarjeet Kaur, captain Surinder Kaur and overlapping midfielder Jasjeet broke through the rival circle repeatedly. As the pressure mounted the Jharkhand defenders began to concede penalty corners.

The first two penalty corners produced goals and thereafter it was Haryana all the way till the final quarter of the match.

Mamta Kharab following a scrimmage inside the semicircle scored the first goal in the fifth minute. Four minutes later, the second penalty corner, produced another goal. Suman Bala's stiff shot rebounded off Marita Tirkey and Jasjeet showed good opportunism to scoop home.

Jharkhand brought in substitute goalkeeper Poonam Toppo to save the situation while at the other end Jharkhand's Jyoti Sunita Kullu along with Binita Xess and Anima Soreng began to probe the rival defence with some incisive runs.

Missed chances

They forced three penalty corners in succession but all of them were wasted.

The change of side saw the Jharkhand midfield establishing its dominance and the tide turned in its favour. The winner's third goal came almost against the run of play in the 56th minute.

A breakaway move from the midfield initiated by Simarjeet Kaur found Surinder weaving her way past three defenders and her square pass found Jasjeet unmarked. She just had to trap and push home into an empty goal.

Sitting pretty on three goals, Haryana relaxed a bit and allowed Jharkhand to pull one back within a minute.

An Anima Soreng firm hit was deflected by Jyoti Kullu. As Jharkhand tried to push for more goals, the Haryana defenders held firm thwarting a number of good moves. Haryana got its fourth goal when Surinder's right wing centre was trapped and pushed in by Mamta.

Orissa downs Assam

There was high drama by Assam players during the men's third place match against the Orissa.

Assam lost the match by the odd goal in three.

Drama

Immediately after the match, three to four Assam players, led by substitute goalkeeper Swapan Das, allegedly manhandled the two match officials, Virendar Singh and Praveen Kumar.

The matter would come up for a decision after the match officials submit their report.