Hosts Karnataka Police got off to a rollicking start here at the ongoing 70th All India Police Hockey Championship 2021 on Sunday. Led by NB Pradeep, Karnataka Police defeated the formidable Haryana Police 5-3 in a thrilling pool D encounter.
Playing in front of a packed home stadium, which also included Olympic hero and Dhyan Chand awardee Manuel Frederick, Karnataka Police made an attacking start with Skipper Pradeep fetching an early 1-0 lead with a brilliant goal in the 10th minute. Although Haryana Police equalized in the 29th minute via captain Nirmal, Karnataka Police showed resilience in the third quarter as they scored important goals in the 36th and 48th minute through Rajeshekhar Shivanagutti and Pradeep respectively.
The final quarter was tense as Haryana pulled a goal in the 54th minute through Mukesh Kumar, thus narrowing the lead to 2-3. But the spirited hosts scored their fourth goal in the 57th minute through Pradeep who was exceptional in leading the team’s attack. Karnataka’s fifth goal came in the 59th minute through Paramesh. A defence lapse, however, in the 60th minute saw Karnataka give away a goal but they rode on their captain Pradeep’s hat-trick, securing a 5-3 victory from their opening tie.
Earlier in the day, CRPF Delhi beat Odisha Police 7-1 in the women’s pool A match. CRPF Delhi dominated the match with strong attack scoring goals in each quarter. It was Bharti Takur who opened the score board in the 12th minute followed by Puja Yadav’s goal in the 21st minute. Pragya Mourya extended the lead to 3-0 in the 39th minute through a penalty corner and Susma Kumari scored in the 41st minute to continue CRPF Delhi’s fine show. Pinki Ekka scored a double in the 43rd and 44th minute while Bharti struck again in the 47th minute. Odisha Police did score a consolation goal in the 58th minute via penalty stroke by Rashmita Minz as they were poised to win 7-1.
In another accelerating match, Odisha Police held Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) to a 4-4 draw in their pool C clash. It was Odisha Police who began on a strong note with an early goal in the 9th minute through Janerious Tirkey. But SSB were quick to respong with an equalizer in the 15th minute through Bikash Lakra’s goal and ended up taking a 2-1 lead in the 24th minute when Francis Toppo struck a fine field goal. Both teams dropped the tempo in the 3rd quarter as they played rather defensively. But Odisha found a golden opportunity in the 45th minute when their forwardline created space in the attacking circle making way for Janerious Tirkey to convert his second goal and equalize 2-2.
The last quarter was most thrilling as SSB overcame the setback to score back-to-back goals in the 49th and 54th minute through Joychandra Lisham and Agandeep Singh respectively. This 4-2 lead by SSB hardly put the Odisha Police, who won the third place in the previous edition, under the pump as they stayed calm to create scoring opportunity with Naveen Kumar. He scored a fine double in the 58th and 60th minute to end the match in a draw and splitting the points.
BSF Jalandhar, meanwhile, registered another fine win as they trounced Uttarakhand Police 5-0. Naveen Kumar Tirkey starred in this match scoring two goals in the 44th and 50th minute while Amarbir Singh (9′), Kanwarpal Singh (34′) and Kamaljit Singh (54′) scored a goal each.
In the Pool E match, Puducherry Police beat Jharkhand Police 1-9. Ayub Mundu (13′, 16′) scored the opening two goals followed by goals from Surendra Tirkey (19′), J Sunil Lugun (24′), and Captain Robart Dodray (36′). Although, Puducherry scored a goal by V Karthi Keyan (45′), it didn’t dent the Jharkhand Police as they scored four more goals by Sunit Ekka (47′, 59′), Sunil Lugun (48′) and Sunil Dhanwar (52′).