Punjab boys hold star-studded Indian team

The Punjab boys led by ex-Indian captain Rajpal Singh and some brilliant stickworks from Karanjit Singh, who scored a brace, drew the match 3-3 against the Indian hockey team in the second exhibition match played at the Olympian Surjit Hockey Stadium at Jalandhar on Saturday.

Despite the presence of several stars in its ranks like Sardar Singh, the Indian team failed to lit up the stage and was almost on the verge of losing if not for some shoddy finishing from the Punjab boys in the second half. The Indian team had taken an unassailable 3-0 lead in the first half but lost the plot in the second half of the match.

Earlier, it was the Indian team who initiated the moves on the turf and opened the account from Yuvraj Valmiki through a field goal in the 12th minute of the play. Barely 13 more minutes had passed when SK Uthappa further consolidated the lead for the Indian team by scoring in the 25th minute. Looking sharp in the attack, the Indian team got their third goal of the match when captain Sardar Singh scored in the 37th minute.

On changing the sides, the Punjab boys finally started to play as a unit and it was Harpreet Singh Nagra who successfully converted a penalty in the 47th minute to reduce the margin for the team. Rajpal and Gurbaj Singh continued to inspire their team members. Their hardwork soon paid dividend when Karamjit Singh collected a lovely pass from Rajpal and showed remarkable composure to score in the 55th minute and make it 3-2.

Bolstered with the goal, the Punjab boys continued to press hard and in the 60th minute, it was once again Karamjit who netted the equaliser for the team. The Punjab boys had two clear chances of scoring goals. They wasted three penalty corners and even Dharamvir Singh, the penalty specialist, was not able to roll the ball properly.

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