Bangalore – Punjab scored a comprehensive 4-1 win over defending champions Haryana to enter the final of Hockey India’s second senior men’s national hockey championship here on Monday.
Leading 2-0 at half-time, Punjab scored through penalty corner specialist Gurjinder Singh (15th, 21st), Satbir Singh (51st) and skipper Sarvanjit Singh (55th) before Haryana notched a consolation goal in the 58th minute through Naveen Antil.
Punjab looked the better outfit while Haryana committed many errors that put them on the defensive for much of the match.
Punjab controlled and dictated the pace from the start to enjoy the upper hand. There was variety in their moves, with the forwards never starved of passes from the midfield.
In contrast, Haryana depended too much on ace midfielder Sardar Singh to construct moves that tended to be right-wing oriented. Punjab’s defenders, however, excelled in marking and covering the attacks.
Playing from the deep, Sardar Singh appeared more effective in the second half when he joined the attacks and forced a penalty corner, Haryana’s first of two, in the 40th minute. It went waste.
It was Gurjinder who laid the foundation for Punjab’s victory with two penalty corner conversions.
The first drag-flick was high and to the left of goalkeeper Nanak Singh. The second was low to the right and beat the custodian with ease.
After the change of ends, Punjab stepped up the pace and struck twice again through Satbir Singh, who flicked home a pass from Akashdeep Singh, and then set up Sarvanjit for the fourth goal with 15 minutes left.
“We played to a definite plan and that was to be selective in going on the attacks. It helped us to have sufficient men in defence. We also scored goals at regular intervals and that helped us to keep Haryana under pressure,” said Punjab coach Baljit Singh Saini.
“Gurjinder also made a big difference. He is a fine prospect and hopefully he will improve further.”