National Games: Uttar Pradesh surprise Maharashtra, enter men’s hockey final

Gritty Uttar Pradesh got the better of Maharashtra in the tie-breaker to sneak into the men’s hockey final of the 36th National Games at the Dhyan Chand Stadium here on Monday.

After a keen battle, the teams were locked 3-3 at the end of regulation time, with Sumit, Sunil Yadav and Manish Yadav scoring for Uttar Pradesh and Aniket Gurav (2) and Sayyad Niyaz Rahim for Maharashtra.

Darshan Gawkar and Yuvraj Walmiki scored for Maharashtra in the shootout while Rajkumar Pal and Rahul Kumar Rajbhar for UP to make 2-2 after the tie-breaker too.

In the ensuing sudden-death, Indian camper Lalit Kumar Upadhyay scored for UP after Maharashtra’s Pratap Shinde failed, to give them a final 6-5 win.

Maharashtra looked the better side not just on paper but also on the field. But Uttar Pradesh impressed when it mattered most to keep the match alive till the end.

Maharashtra began their quest on a positive note, threatening the rival citadel time and again. Yuvraj Walmiki led the frontline smartly, and in the process earned the first penalty corner of the match. But they failed to find the net.

Uttar Pradesh’s defence was often caught off-guard but they somehow managed to avert any significant damage.

In the second quarter, Uttar Pradesh came into their own, attacking Maharashtra at will. They soon earned their first corner and even scored the first goal to go one-up.

The third quarter was the most exciting, with as many as four goals coming in, with Uttar Pradesh sounding the boards twice and Maharashtra once.

Maharashtra, however, fought back to level the scores and take it to the tie-breaker. Luck did not favour them, though in the tie-breaker.

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