Karnataka will take on Uttar Pradesh in the 36th National Games men’s hockey final at the Maj. Dhyan Chand Stadium, here on Tuesday.
They struck in the first and the fourth quarters to pull off a convincing 3-1 win over Haryana in the semifinals on Monday. Earlier, Uttar Pradesh stunned fancied Maharashtra 6-5 via the tie-breaker after they were locked 3-3 at the end of regulation time.
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Abharan Sudev converted Karnataka’s first penalty corner in the fourth minute but Haryana hit back through Kohinoor Preet Singh and scored in the 17th minute. After a barren third quarter, Karnataka scored Nikkin Thimmaiah C. A (47th minute) and Harish Mutagar (51) to seal their place in the summit clash.
In the earlier semifinal, doughty Uttar Pradesh got the better of Maharashtra after an intense battle. Sumit, Sunil Yadav and Manish Yadav put Uttar Pradesh 3-0 ahead before Maharashtra found goals from Aniket Gurav (2) and Sayyad Niyaz Rahim to extend the match into the shoot-out.
Rajkumar Pal and Rahul Kumar Rajbhar gave Uttar Pradesh a 2-0 lead in the tie-breaker. Darshan Gawkar and Yuvraj Walmiki scored to keep Maharashtra in the contest with one attempt left for both teams. Venkatesh Kenche could not beat Uttar Pradesh goalkeeper Prashant Kumar while skipper Lalit Kumar Upadhyay found the winner.
Maharashtra looked the better side on paper and on the field but Uttar Pradesh impressed when it mattered most. Maharashtra began their quest on a positive note, raiding the circle often. Yuvraj Walmiki led the frontline smartly. Uttar Pradesh’s defence was frequently caught off-guard but they managed to avert damage.
Uttar Pradesh came into their own in the second quarter, counter-attacking Maharashtra. They soon scored the first goal through Sumit in the 22nd minute and added another as insurance through a penalty corner strike by Sunil Yadav just as the second quarter was drawing to a close.
The third quarter was just as exciting, with Uttar Pradesh making the most of another penalty corner exercise seven minutes after the resumption. Maharashtra regrouped and hit back with a brace by Aniket Gurav on either side of the third break. Five minutes before the hooter, Sayyad Niyaz Rahim equalised for Maharashtra.
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