Ranchi: Punjab defeated Jharkhand 2-0 in a
scintillating men`s hockey final in the 34th National Games at
the Astroturf here on Friday.
After surviving a flurry of attacks from the hosts, Ravi
Pal and Sarvanjit Singh struck in the 55th and 64th minutes
against the run of the play to give Punjab the gold medal,
much to the disappointment of a capacity crowd.
Ravi Pal latched on a ball deflected from Jharkhand
goalkeeper Dinesh Ekka following a penalty corner hit, and
flicked into the post from the left side to put Punjab in
Nine minutes later, Sarvanjit got all the time in the
world to reverse flick one into the net to consolidate
Jharkhand came close to scoring in the 59th minute when
Mathias Minz gave a cross to Inocent Kullu, but the latter
failed to make contact.
The match began on a pacy note with the ball switching
ends with breathtaking regularity as Punjab defence survived
some harrowing time from Jharkhand forwards.
The Lakra brothers -- captain Bimal and Birendra (jr) --
and Kullu kept the Punjab defenders busy.
In the 33rd minute, Bikas Toppo spectacularly moved into
the rival defence hoodwinking two players before a defender
warded off the goal-bound move.
A minute later, the home team came very close to take the
lead when Kullu played a centre, but a well positioned Bikash
Toppo failed to connect.
Punjab also had their chances in the first half when
forward Dharambir Singh moved through Jharkhand defence, but
he shot straight on to the pads of goalkeeper Dinesh Ekka, who
had also saved Akashdeep Singh`s blistering goal-bound shot.
Chief minister Arjun Munda gave away the gold and silver
medals to both the men`s and women`s hockey finalists.