HIL 2016: Kalinga gatecrash Ranchi's party to enter final in thrilling shootout

HIL 2016: Kalinga gatecrash Ranchi's party to enter final in thrilling shootout

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Kalinga Lancers


Image Courtesy: © HIL Media

Two goals in the final six minutes set up an exciting shootout at the Ranchi Hockey stadium on Saturday as the sides were deadlocked at 2-2. The Lancers then converted all four attempts to win it 4-2 to enter their first final in the history of the Hockey India League to face Punjab Warriors tomorrow.

With a 100 percent record at home, Ranchi Rays entered the last four in the first position with 37 points in the league phase, while Kalinga Lancers made it to their first ever semi-final in the history of the Hockey India League by pocketing 25 points in the league stage. Ranchi Rays had won both the meetings between the two in this edition of HIL by an identical score line of 3-2 in both games, and the defending champions looked the favourites to enter the final with the game being played at Ranchi.

The match got off to a frantic start with both teams playing some brilliant hockey in the initial minutes. However, the end product remained absent from both sides with no penalty corners in the first ten minutes. The defending champions produced a penalty corner just before the end of the first quarter to give skipper Ashley Jackson a shot at the goal, but poor trapping from Manpreet Singh at the edge of the shooting circle saw the chance go begging.

With Lalit Upadhyay looking dangerous at the top, Kalinga raced off their blocks in the second quarter and earned two penalty corners in quick succession. Although the first drag-flick from Gurjinder did not trouble the goalkeeper, he produced a powerful flick from the second to put it past Tyler Lovell in the goal. A strong push from Dharamvir Singh gave Gurjinder enough time to pick his spot and flick the ball in between Lovell’s legs to put Kalinga 1-0 ahead.

Ranchi Rays tried everything to level things up in the game for the next two quarters but found their match in a resolute Kalinga defence, who refused to give up till the final whistle. The home side earned two back-to-back penalty corners in the third corner, only to see Amit Rohidas running at them to stop skipper Ashley Jackson’s powerful flicks.

With the crowd cheering them on in search of the equaliser, the defending champions pushed in search of the goal and earned a penalty corner in the 50th minute. Captain Ashley Jackson, who wasted the last three attempts, was once again assigned to take the penalty corner, and the Englishman once again faltered with a straight push at Andrew Charter in the Kalinga goal. Coach Harendra Singh brought on veteran Sandeep Singh to cash in on the penalty corner, but Amit Rohidas once again ran at the ball to take a hit on his knee to keep Ranchi at bay.

For the final six minutes, Ranchi replaced their goalkeeper Lovell with Akash to bring one extra foreign player on the pitch and it worked perfectly as Ranchi levelled things up in the match four minutes from time. Ashley Jackson tried a variation from a penalty corner and spun round to place the ball for Trent Mitton, and the Aussie fired the ball past Charter to level things at 1-1.

However, the happiness of the home fans only lasted two minutes, with Glen Turner deflecting the ball off Gurjinder’s penalty corner to put Kalinga again in the lead. The end-to-end affair continued as another penalty corner paved the way for Ranchi’s equalizer in the final minute. Ashley Jackson fired the ball straight at the man on the post, but his save on the line rebounded back and Timothy Daevin put it back into the goal to set up a shoot out for a place in the final.

In the shootout, Ashley Jackson missed his attempt with Charter saving the ball to give Kalinga a good start. Kalinga took the lead with Moritz Fuertse attempt and it was followed by two successful attempts from both teams before Barry Middleton was denied by Charter to put Kalinga in a 3-2 lead. Aran Zalewski stepped up and smashed his attempt past Lovell to power Kalinga to their first-ever final in the history of the league.

(Also Read: It's good times to be an Indian hockey fan)

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