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The Semi Finals at the 9th Hockey India Senior Men National Hockey Championship 2019 (A Division) saw high-voltage performance that kept the Gwalior spectators on the edge of their seats here on Saturday.
In the first Semi Final of the day, Hockey Punjab sailed smooth as they comfortably beat Punjab & Sind Bank 2-0. After making a positive start with potential forays into the striking circle but not having converted a goal, experienced India striker Akashdeep Singh took the onus onto himself to lead the charge as he scored a scintillating goal for Hockey Punjab in the 8th minute. The 1-0 lead proved to be crucial for the team to take control of the proceedings.
The defending Champions showcased dominant hockey, not allowing the Punjab & Sind Bank players to create any successful opportunities in the striking circle. Though there were some desperate attempts to score a goal, Hockey Punjab’s defenders were up to the task to ensure the team remained in lead. Hockey Punjab led by Dharamvir Singh doubled their lead in the 39th minute when Dharminder Singh scored a fine field goal to take their lead to 2-0. The team did well to hold on to the lead and eventually win the game.
It was the second Semi Final that had the spectators tense through the game as both Petroleum Sports Promotion Board, runners-up in the last edition, and Railway Sports Promotion Board played on par with each other to draw 2-2 in regulation time.
Varun Kumar struck in the 8th minute through a penalty corner to help Petroleum Sports Promotion Board take a 1-0 lead. Mandeep Singh doubled the lead in the 23rd minute as he scored in his-trade mark style. But Railway Sports Promotion Board made a late surge as they attacked aggressively to make forays into the striking circle. Yuvraj Walmiki was the one to find a breakthrough in the 45th minute followed by Dilpreet Singh’s 50th minute goal that helped hold Petroleum Sports Promotion Board to a 2-2 draw.
The penalty shootout was a battle of nerves with both teams staying neck-to-neck but it was Railway Sports Promotion Board who remained persistent in their endeavour and showed immaculate patience to seal the scoreline 5-4. It was youngsters Dilpreet Singh and Nilakanta Sharma who remained instrumental in Railway Sports Promotion Board attempt to make the final as they scored twice in the shootout, while Raju Pal scored once.
On Sunday, Petroleum Sports Promotion Board will take on Punjab & Sind Bank in the 3/4th placing match while the Final will be played between Hockey Punjab and Railway Sports Promotion Board.
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