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UP XI shock Pakistan's Punjab XI

May 02, 2005 22:22 IST

Unfancied Uttar Pradesh XI upset the calculations of everyone, including the organisers, knocking out Pakistan outfit Punjab XI from Lahore 3-1 with a scintillating display to enter the semi-finals of the 43rd Bombay Gold Cup Hockey tournament on Monday.

UP XI outclassed the team from across the border which looked lethargic after travelling for three days from Pakistan and reaching Mumbai only this morning.

UP, who led 2-1 at half time, scored through forward Pramod Kumar (9th minute), full-back Mohd Ishaq (26th) and forward Vivek (43rd).

The squad from Pakistan, with seven internationals in their ranks, got their lone goal through penalty-corner expert Rana Zubair Riaz in the 15th minute, which neutralised UP's opening strike.

It was Punjab XI's first match in the tournament, having been seeded directly into the quarter-finals.

UP's centre half and captain Mohd Kaleem controlled the match to a nicety with his well-measured passes to both flanks and his team should have won by a bigger margin but for some fine goalkeeping from Punjab XI's Waheed Islam.

UP XI will meet last year's runners-up Western Railway in the double leg semi-finals, slated for May 3 and 5.

Earlier, in another quarter-final encounter, Indian Hockey Federation Juniors XI edged out local team Central Railway 2-1 to earn a meeting with reigning champions Punjab and Sind Bank in the other semi final, also scheduled on the same days.

The crowd that assembled at the Mahindra stadium under lights was disappointed by the poor display of the Pakistan outfit, which did not even have sufficient bench strength to boast of.

Except the last 15 minutes or so when they tried hard to get back into the match after having fallen 1-3 in arrears, Punjab XI did not impress at all.

UP went 1-0 up at the end of a fast-paced attack down the middle led by Kaleem who did the spadework before feeding Pramod Kumar to deflect the ball home.

The Lahore team drew level six minutes later through a low drag-flick off their first penalty corner essayed by Riaz, but then were left chasing shadows.

Four minutes later UP's Vivek was foiled twice in close succession by the Pakistan team's goalkeeper Islam and then he foiled a stiff try from UP's Avinash Saxena in the 22nd minute.

But even Islam could not stop Ishaq from sounding the board for UP off the latter's third penalty-corner nine minutes from half-time and the teams trooped out with UP 2-1 in front at the breather.

UP's third goal, in the eighth minute after resumption, put the Lahore team further on the backfoot. It was a fine on-the-run shot by Vivek which found the roof of the net following a square pass to him from Ishaq.

Staring defeat in the face, Punjab XI went on the offensive to force seven penalty corners between the 47th and 64th minutes, but UP custodian Neeraj Kujur was equal to the task and stopped all of them.

Earlier, the IHF Juniors, with six junior internationals, took the lead in the third minute, off their first penalty-corner when Hamza Mujtaba pushed in the shot taken by forward Bruno Lugno.

Central Railway equalised seven minutes later off a rasping penalty corner drive by full back Nilesh Mane.

IHF scored the match winner in the ninth minute of the second half through a spectacular zero angle goal scored with the reverse stick by half back Ramesh Kumar, who played close on the heels of his forwardline in combination with fellow halfback Jasbir Singh.

The IHF team, for whom junior international goalkeeper Kamaldeep Singh was in great form, later kept the Central forwards at bay till the end.

Central, who entered the quarters after lodging a protest that Border Security Force, to whom they lost 0-1, had fielded a player who had earlier turned out for Chandigarh XI, earned eleven penalty corners compared to their rivals' six.

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