Bangalore, March 23 (IANS) Former India goalkeeper Devesh Chauhan saved the blushes for Karnataka Lions who stumbled to a 2-1 win against leaders Sher-E-Punjab in the World Series Hockey tournament here Friday.
Two penalty corner conversions by Len Aiyappa (4th, 58th) coupled with Chauhan's brilliant saves saw the Lions chalk up their fifth win in 11 matches while handing Punjab, for whom Harpreet Singh (38th) scored, only their third defeat.
In an ill-tempered match marred by both teams repeatedly disputing umpiring decisions but getting away courtesy lax supervision, Punjab paid dearly for their poor play at penalty corners, converting just one of the nine they received.
The Lions, in quest of a win to keep their knockout hopes alive, started promisingly when Aiyappa converted a fourth minute penalty following a fine left-to-right move that saw Arjun Halappa forcing an infringement.
However, the Lions were unable to drive home their territorial advantage and despite applying pressure on Punjab whose deep defence just about survived the repeated onslaughts.
At the other end, Punjab looked like a bunch of schoolboys, committing a series of shocking errors, both in the midfield and the attack even as Karnataka defended well.
Punjab's penalty corner play was as abysmal and they looked certain to taste defeat, given the waywardness of their performance as they went into half-time trailing by a goal.
On resumption, Punjab showed some urgency and forced a penalty corner in the 38th minute and Harpreet Singh flicked home the equaliser.
The reverse sent the Karnataka players in a tizzy and some of their players lost their composure, repeatedly questioning umpiring decisions that went against them.
At one point, German umpire Mark Knulle booked the Lions captain Halappa with a yellow card after he was mobbed by the home players disputing a penalty corner.
There were few other stoppages as the players repeatedly argued with the umpires, who, to say the least, were far too lenient in putting up with gross indiscipline.
Early in the fourth quarter, Karnataka received a penalty corner that Aiyappa converted to put the hosts 2-1 ahead while Punjab seemed to run out of luck too as their key forward Deepak Thakur twice failed to score from close in the dying minutes.
Read More: Kings XI Punjab | Bangalore Rural | Karnataka | Punjab Khor | Sher Singh Wala | Punjab Raodways Bus Stand | Sher Khan Wala | Pure Thakur Ram Tewari | Sher Pur | Punjab Nagar | Sher Nagar | Harsinghwa Chauhan | Umrapur Chauhan | Chauhan Purwa | Jigina Thakur | Karmtar Sher Khan | Thakur Deoria | Sher | Sher Garh | Thakur Pimpalgaon | Thakur Nahar | Fri | Deep | Shahrukh Khan | Syria