Pune, 19th December 2021: The Hockey Punjab versus Hockey Maharashtra semi-final match-up lines up an exciting face-off between a ‘traditional heavy weight’ and a ‘surprise package’ in the 11th Hockey India Senior Men National Championship Pimpri Chinchwad 2021 at the Major Dhyanchand Hockey Stadium, Nehrunagar-Pimpri.
The encounter scheduled under lights on the morrow has a lot to look forward to apart from the fact that Maharashtra is on a never-before journey.
To begin with, Hockey Punjab will be figuring in their fifth semi-final appearance over the past 10 years, which includes being two-time champions and three-time runners-up. For the hosts, the spunk and determination showed only endorses their entitlement to be among the best.
For Punjab, the encounter will be all about putting their experience together and a winning routine owing to the been there done that situation they have had in the past. Maharashtra, unlike, Punjab will want to prove that they can match up against seasoned teams as well.
On-pitch the battle to watch for will be the 2020 Tokyo Olympics bronze Olympian Rupinder Pal Singh and Maharashtra goalkeeper and former India player Akash Chikte.
Armed with vast experience Rupinder with two strikes in the last-8 encounter against Hockey Chandigarh proved how he singlehandedly can push to be a game-changer. In a similar capacity are Akash’s attributes standing up and blocking the Tamil Nadu attempts and helping Maharashtra get past the quarterfinals.
In fact, all who watched both Rupinder and Akash in the quarterfinals would agree that both were saviours in their own capacity to take their teams ahead.
Punjab have gone about their job clinically. They have not been high team scorers as compared to the hosts and have moved on hinging their scoring on Lovepreet Jainth (5 Goals) and Rupinder Pal Singh (4 Goals.)
Interestingly, when it comes to Rupinder’s prowess
as a penalty corner expert, Maharashtra has in their midst Pratap Shinde (10 goals off PC’s).
Maharashtra, however, have run themselves into a purple patch with skipper Taleb Shah, who began in flamboyant fashion scoring goals after goals, not finding the fluidity as when he began. However, the last-gasp equaliser against Tamil Nadu by Taleb restored his scoring ability (12 goals – Tournament Top Scorer), the sudden inconsistency would need to change for Maharashtra to make an impact.
Punjab’s top scorer is Lovepreet Jainth who has scored all off 5 goals.
With the face-off having interesting battles lined up it will all boil down to who of them all will become the hero.
Both Punjab and Maharashtra have not clashed before making the game an open bet.
In the other semi-final, Hockey Karnataka takes on Uttar Pradesh Hockey in a South-North encounter of varied styles one the attacker and one with the experience of holding the game well to good effect.
SF-1: Uttar Pradesh Hockey v Hockey Karnataka – 5.00 pm
SF-2: Hockey Maharashtra v Hockey Punjab – 7.00 pm