Hockey Haryana probably disappointed themselves more than anyone else when they exited from the 2021 Hockey India Senior Men’s National Championship at Pune when they went down to Uttar Pradesh Hockey by the odd goal in three in the quarterfinal stage. The Haryana lad made up for that disappointment with a resounding performance, winning the 2022 Hockey India Senior Men’s National Championship at Bhopal, outduelling Hockey Unit of Tamil Nadu 3-1 in a shootout after both teams were locked 1-1 in regulation time.
Hockey Haryana went ahead as early as fifth minute of play when Deepak rattled the backboard off a short corner – his 10th goal of the tournament. Hockey Unit of Tamil Nadu, who had also lost in the quarterfinals of the 2021 edition, restored parity in the closing stages of the opening quarter via a fine goal by Saravana Kumar from the top of the circle. Both teams failed to break the deadlock in the next three quarters and the match headed into a shootout.
Hockey Haryana goalkeeper Ankit Malik effected two crucial saves as they had the last laugh in the shootout. Earlier in the semifinals, Hockey Haryana eased past Hockey Maharashtra 5-2, while Hockey Unit of Tamil Nadu humbled Hockey Karnataka 3-0.
The runners-up finish for Hockey Unit of Tamil Nadu is exceedingly creditable given the fact that this was the first final appearance in the Senior Men’s Nationals in 22 years – they had last entered the finals in 1999 when they had lost to Railways in the final.