Hockey Nationals: Air India, Karnataka among last four

Pun June 8 (IANS) Holders Punjab will take on Karnataka while Air India face Haryana in the semifinals of the third Hockey India senior men's National Championship.

In the quarter finals played Saturday, Air India snatched a 5-4 win over Railways Sports Control Board, Punjab trounced Jharkhand 6-0, Karnataka scored a 4-2 win over a fighting Manipur and Haryana defeated Chandigarh 4-1.

In one of the closest matches of the day, Air India scored two goals within a span of 21 minutes through Somanna Pradhan and skipper Vinaya Swamy, but Gagandeep Singh scored a scorcher for the Railways in the 27th minute to reduce the deficit to 1-2.

Air India fired two more goals through Joga Singh in the 30th minute and Arjun Halappa in the 35th to lead 4-1. However, Railways came back strongly with B. Horo scoring a right flick goal in the 37th followed by a strike by skipper Sanjay Bir in the 41st and then Jassjeet Singh converting a penalty corner in the 43rd minute to level the scores.

Watched by their coach Dhanraj Pillay, Air India's Somanna Pradhan scored a goal after a fumble by the Railways defender in the 60th minute to wrap up the match.

In another interesting match, Karnataka proved too strong for the Manipur. B.S. Bidappa converted a penalty corner for Karnataka in the 13th minute. Manipur forward M. Amarjit who made valiant bid to breach Karnataka defence almost immediately, but was foiled.

In the 17th minute, M.G. Ponacha's attempt was saved by Manipur goalkeeper A. Himat, but in the 19th, Nikin Thimmaih scored off a reverse pass by Mohan Muthanna to make the score 2-0.

In the second half, Manipur struck back in the 37th minute when K. Suresh scored a solo goal to reduce the margin. However, in the 41st minute, a swift move by M.B. Aiyappa helped Karnataka take a 3-1 lead followed by a M.G. Poonacha hit which struck defender K. Suresh and moved into the Manipur goal to give Karnataka a 4-1 lead.

Manipur continued to fight despite the reverses and in the 65th minute, N. Ganendrajit scored, but Karnataka managed to hang on to their two-goal advantage to enter the semi-finals.

Hockey Punjab outplayed Jharkhand as Sarvanjit Singh, Gurjinder Singh, skipper Ravipal Singh and Inderjeet Singh scored a goal each while former international Deepak Thakur slammed a couple to round off an easy outing.

Hockey Haryana came from being 0-1 down to oust Chandigarh. Mandeep Antil, Shivdeep, Jagwant and Hansraj scored for the winners while Lakhwinder Singh scored the lone goal for Chandigarh.

The results (quarter-finals):

Air India 5 (Somanna Pradhan 5, 60; Vinaya Swamy 21; Joga Singh 30; Arjun Halappa 35) beat RSCB 4 (Gagandeep Singh 27; B. Horo 37; Sanjay Bir 41; Jassjeet Singh 43).

Karnataka 4 (B.S. Bidappa 13; Nikin Thimmaiah 19; M.B. Aiyappa 41; M.G. Poonacha 48) beat Manipur 2 (K. Suresh 37; N. Ganendrajit 65).

Hockey Punjab 6 (Sarvanjit Singh 19; Gurjinder Singh 26; Ravipal Singh 31; Inderjeet Singh 32; Deepak Thakur 58,63 ) beat Jharkhand 0.

Hockey Haryana 4 (Mandeep Antil 35, Shivdeep 37; Jagwant 47; Hansraj 48) beat Chandigarh 1 (Lakhwinder Singh 12).

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