Sunday, Dec 22, 2002
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By M.C. Raman
It was a red letter day for Chhatisgarh which previously won the Games title in 1994 as Madhya Pradesh and finished third at Ludhiana in 2001 again as MP.
This was their second confrontation in the competition and Chhatisgarh avenged the group game defeat to emerge winner. No wonder the team members made such a noise in the stadium.
Manipur too made a shaky start, but turned the tables on the current National champion Kerala in a dramatic finish at 26-23 and when they won the Manipur girls did their traditional group dance holding each other's hand on the stadium floor.
Despite the absence of Andhra teams in both the finals the stadium was over flowing and the spectators cheered right through, enjoying every moment.
It was a rough and tough match too as both the Army team and Chhatisgarh set up tremendous pace and were attacking all the time.
In terms of pace and fitness the State side matched the Services, which, however, sailed comfortably with a two-goal lead in the first half. At half time Services led 19-18.
But after the break Kunal (11) and Firoz Ahmed Khan (11) became unstoppable. Quick interception of passes and fast break attack of Chhatisgarh rattled the Armymen.
But I.N.C. Singh (13), Praseed Kumar (9) and Satheesan (7) broke open the rival defence to score at will and Services surged to a 32-28 lead. It looked all was over for the rival. But the Army team became defensive at this stage and Chhatisgarh rallied brilliantly.
It missed at least five goals because of erratic throw or goal post. But substitute Anil Kumar turned the match decisively in Chahhatisgarh's favour by hitting the target from the flanks.
Chattisgarh's Parduman Singh was shown the red card for being suspended third time in the match and left. But the team fought bravely right through.
Punjab finished third in the men's section, beating Andhra 43-28.
Kerala women were surging ahead and at 9-8 the team looked strong enough to pull it off. But at half time it was down 11-12 and Manipur took over. Quicker and sharper in attack the Manipur players kept up the pressure with steady scoring.
They also cashed in on the penalties resulted from the Kerala defenders fouls in their area. At one stage Manipur was leading 20-14 as Sandhya Rani (10), Shanthi (6) and Surbala (2) hit the target perfectly. It was this lead that Manipur managed to maintain till the end to wrap up the match. Usha Nandhini (7), Deepa (6) and P.V. Seena (4) were the main scorers for Kerala.
Men's final: Chhatisgarh beat Services 41-37; For third place: Punjab beat Andhra 43-28.
Women's final: Manipur beat Kerala 26-23; For third place: Chhatisgarh beat Punjab 24-23.
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