National Games: Neighbours Punjab, Haryana to clash in women’s hockey final

Defending champions Punjab set up a repeat date with runners-up Haryana in the women’s hockey final of the National Games, with the two powerhouses scoring contrasting victories on Sunday.

At the Dhyan Chand Hockey Stadium, Punjab got the better of a fighting Madhya Pradesh 2-1 while Haryana comfortably defeated Jharkhand 5-2 in the semifinals.

Exhibiting visually pleasing hockey in perfect conditions, under overcast skies, Punjab scored through skipper Gurjit Kaur in the 29th minute and Lalremsiami in the 59th minute. Madhya Pradesh captain Ishika Chaudhary scored the lone goal in the 42nd minute.

The day, however, belonged to Rani Rampal who anchored Haryana into the final, amazingly scoring all five goals against Jharkhand in their 5-2 win.

The former India skipper scored in the 11th, 16th, 30th, 49th and 58th minutes, allowing Haryana to avenge their defeat in the Senior Nationals championship.

“It has been a good championship for us. We have a good side and should return home with the gold medal,” said a confident Rani Rampal after the game.

Rani, capitalising on defensive lapses of Jharkhand that left her scot-free in the striking circle, slammed home Neha Goyal’s centre from the right wing.

Five minutes later, Rani was again on the scoresheet, this time converting their first corner.

“We have been playing for some time together. Most of us are experienced which has made a big difference. It helps us handle pressure better and that has been the key to our success,” stated Rani.

Jharkhand were left wanting in all departments, but for some signs of a fightback in the third quarter wherein they scored two quick goals in three minutes through Sangita Kumari (45th) and Salima Tete (47th).

“We lost our focus during that period. But regained the same and found the net twice to ease the pressure,” a delighted Rani said.

“The girls played well. But Haryana, who have over 10 India players in the side were a better side,” conceded Bigan Soy, the Jharkhand coach while”summing up the game. “We had won a bronze at the Senior Nationals and will now”gun for the same here”.

Results (semifinals):

Haryana 5 bt Jharkhand 2

Punjab 2 bt Madhya Pradesh 1




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