Karnataka lifts crown

CHAMPS AGAIN: The Karnataka boys who retained the National sub-junior hockey crown with an emphatic 3-1 win over Punjab & Sind Bank in Bangalore on Friday.

CHAMPS AGAIN: The Karnataka boys who retained the National sub-junior hockey crown with an emphatic 3-1 win over Punjab & Sind Bank in Bangalore on Friday.  

BANGALORE Jan. 3. Karnataka put its best foot forward when it mattered most. And in a display of grit and gumption beat Punjab & Sind Bank (PSB) 3-1 to retain its hold on the sub junior National hockey championship, in its 10th edition, that concluded at the Dr. Ambedkar Stadium, BEL Colony here today.

The celebrations that erupted as the hooter went was spontaneous, for hundreds of spectators and officials entered the ground to cheer the coach and players. Coach Janardhan Rao, with his feet firmly on the ground, gave full credit to his boys.

It was not a typical Karnataka start, or so one felt. For against Orissa in the semifinal, yesterday, the watchword was defence and the ploy to play for time and counter attacks. Today, against a susceptible PSB Academy boys there indeed was tinge of aggression from the start. Bharath, looked inept in his role as a right half against Orissa, having to curb his instincts but on this day given a free run, the youngster impressed.

But the early tentativeness was what enabled PSB build its forays. Jagdeep Kumar in his sweeping role did keep his forward line going with long scoops. Though the wingers Sharanjit Singh and Sukjinder were palpably slow, Paramjit more than compensated with his runs. And it was one such run down the left that baffled Karnataka custodian Arvind Jerome. A meek push from the left by Paramjit on accepting a return pass from Sharanjit saw Jerome kicking air and the ball slid through to the boards much to the dismay of the home supporters, two minutes from the half time hooter.

Although a goal was disallowed by umpire Alphonso almost at the call of interval, Karnataka had not to wait long for the equaliser. Vineet Michael, who came in the second session, with his uncanny knack of getting goals from difficult angles did just that. A fine run down the left by Bharath and Chengappa saw Vineet guiding the ball onto the boards. And the goal proved the ideal tonic in redeeming Karnataka's transformation. A series of penalty corners resulted with Karnataka on attack mode and off the seventh such award in the 57th minute, centre half Ravi Kumar unleashed a stinger that went in off PSB custodian Gurpreet Singh's pads.

Three minutes later Nagesh Boyer crossed to an unmarked Chengappa at the top of the circle and Chengappa wasted little time in choosing the corner of the net to strike.

In the dying moments though PSB did make efforts to bridge the deficit, there was very little that the Academy boys could do.

Orissa takes third place

Earlier in the match for the third place, Orissa showed why it was rated so highly in the tournament with a 3-0 win over Manipur. Roshan Minz in the fourth minute got Orissa to a early lead before Bikash Toppo and Amrit Minz completed the rout in the second half.

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