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WSH: Top four ready to battle in the semis

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Press Trust of India

Last Updated: March 31, 2012, 18:58 IST

WSH: Top four ready to battle in the semis

While Karnataka Lions take on Sher-E-Punjab, Chandigarh Comets will lock horns with Pune Strykers.

Bangalore: Chance to book a place in the summit clash of the World Series Hockey (WSH) will be up for grabs when the top four teams from the group stage lock horns in the semi-finals on Sunday, where Karnataka Lions take on Sher-E-Punjab and Chandigarh Comets face Pune Strykers.

Karnataka finished third in the league stage with 21 points, while Punjab finished second with 25 points. But what might be worrying Karnataka ahead of the crucial match in Bangalore is their 1-6 mauling at the hands of Punjab in the return league match at home.

The hosts will bank heavily on captain Arjun Halappa, young Jarnail Singh and their top goal scorer and drag-flick specialist Len Aiyappa (10 goals) to deliver the goods. Meanwhile, veteran Pakistan defender Zeeshan Ashraf will provide steadiness to Karnataka's defence. Punjab, on the other hand, will rely on former stars of Indian hockey - Deepak Thakur, skipper Prabhjot Singh and Gagan Ajit Singh.

In the day's other semi-final, Chandigarh are expected to hold a slight edge over Pune when the two teams clash at the MHA-Mahindra Stadium in Mumbai. Chandigarh finished on top of the league table with 28 points and had won both their round-robin ties against their semi-final rivals, who ended up fourth with 21 points.

Chandigarh have relied a lot on penalty-corner expert Gurjinder Singh, who was the second-highest goal scorer in the league with 13 strikes, and Canadian import Sukhwinder 'Gabbar' Singh (10 goals). Also former Pakistan captain Rehan Butt and India international Bharat Chikara have combined well with Sukhwinder to sharpen Chandigarh's attack.

Pune's defenders may have a tough time in handling the trio and also in foiling penalty-corner expert Gurjinder who has a golden chance to overtake the eliminated Chennai Cheetahs' Pakistan import Imran Warsi (16 goals) as the highest scorer of the tournament.

Pune will depend on penalty-corner specialists Gurpreet Singh and Simrandeep Randhawa for goals, while the other young legs in the team are also capable of testing the opponents.
first published:March 31, 2012, 18:58 IST
last updated:March 31, 2012, 18:58 IST