Mumbai get past fighting Jharkhand

Indian Airlines (in white) VS Faith Club Academy hockey match is in progress in BK Gautam Memorial hockey tournament at National Stadium, New Delhi

Bangalore – Defending champions Mumbai turned back a 2-4 first-half deficit to beat a fighting Jharkhand 7-5 for their first win in three matches of the 64th Senior National Men’s Hockey Championship for the Rangaswamy Cup, here Saturday.

Also posting victories were hosts Karnataka, who overcame Manipur 4-1, and Uttar Pradesh, who scrambled to a 1-0 win over Punjab.

Mumbai, who had drawn with Karnataka and then lost to Punjab in their previous two games, were given a hard time by Jharkhand, who looked to be on top in the first-half.

Starring in Mumbai’s win were Roshan Keishan, Ravi Pareek and skipper Victo Singh, who scored two goals apiece, while Laxman Rao struck the other. For Jharkhand, Deepak Soreng led with three goals after John Minz and Dilbar Toppo had opened the account.

Mumbai were first off the blocks when Keishan scored in the eighth to see Jharkhand equalise two minutes later through Minz. In the very next minute, Mumbai regained the lead when Pareek found the target.

Jharkhand put on a fine performance thereafter to score thrice through Toppa (13th) and Soreng (17th, 23rd) for a 4-2 advantage but a Keishan strike in the 27th kept Mumbai in the hunt going into the breather.

On change of ends, Mumbai raised their game, to put in four goals in a 15-minute spell as Victo Singh (45th, 60th), Laxman Rao (56th) and Pareek (59th), for a 7-4 lead. However, Jharkhand kept fighting to reduce the leeway in the 68th when Soreng scrambled home his third goal of the match.

Mumbai then hung on grimly in the dying minutes to hold off Jharkhand, who thus slid to their first defeat in two matches after starting their campaign with a 4-2 win over Manipur barely 24 hours ago.

Earlier, with skipper Deepak Bejiwad scoring twice, hosts Karnataka recorded their first win in three matches by defeating Manipur 4-1. Karnataka dominated the proceedings and despite conceding a goal in the seventh minute, when Starun scored off a penalty corner for Manipur, the home team was in control.

Beijiwad converted two penalty corners in the first and 29th minutes while Biju Yirkal found the target from a goalmouth melee following a penalty corner in the 10th. While Naveen Kumar rounded off the tally by side-stepping two defenders before neatly placing the ball into the goal.

Karnataka, who drew both their previous matches, had relatively an easy match but wasted several chances. Boney Marshall was the main culprit muffing at least three open chances.

In the day’s first match, Uttar Pradesh, courtesy a 28th minute goal by Prem Kumar, edged past former champions Punjab 1-0. UP, who had a draw their first league match, thus have four points to Punjab’s three.

The only goal of the match came following an eye-catching passing bout between Prem Kumar and Imran Khan with the former capping the brilliant move by finding the mark.

In the second-half, Punjab, who had beaten Mumbai in their opening league fixture, made repeated attempts in their quest for the equaliser but on the day, Uttar Pradesh citadel could not be breached.

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