LAHORE -  Defending champion PIA and National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) set a show down in the final of the 60th NBP National Hockey Championship after winning their respective semi-finals here at the Johar Hockey Stadium on Saturday.

Earlier, PIA defeated Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) 2-1 in a nail-biting first semi-final. Both teams, which had the services of Olympians and international players, fought very hard amid display of classic hockey and amused the spectators with their calculated moves, smart dodges and accurate passes. The white ball continued to roll between the two halves at a fast pace. It was a hotly contested encounter between the two top teams of the championship.

Olympian Kashif Ali put PIA in the lead with a furious stroke on the penalty corner in the 15th minute. After conceding one goal, the SSGC made a number of counter attacks to level the score but goalkeeper Imran Butt frustrated their attempts stopping a couple of hard hits at the post.

In the 32nd minute of the match, Olympian Shakeel Abbasi showed his class dodging halves and full backs of PIA with his amazing strides to hit the ball neatly into the net. The score remained 1-1 at the interval. The tempo of the match electrified as the game started in the second half. In the 39th minute, PIA were awarded a penalty stroke and Kashif easily dodged the goalkeeper to gain 2-1 lead for his team which remained intact till the final whistle was blown. PIA got four and SSGC got two penalty corners.

The second semi-final between NBP and Wapda was a true reflection of the first and it also ended at the identical result of 2-1. Both the teams fought hard to keep the possession of the ball and made many attacks into each others’ ranks to steal an opportunity to score the goal. No goal could be scored in the first half. The Bankers exerted pressure soon after the game started in the second half. They wasted two back-to-back penalty corners but managed to convert another in the 45th minute to register their first goal through forward Kashif Shah who took the ball on rebound and pushed it in the net. In the 53rd minute, M Dilber gently deflected a cross into the net to double the lead. Wapda's lone goal was scored on a penalty corner in the 68th minute when M Imran made no mistake to hit the ball in the right direction. The final will be played today (Sunday) at 2pm.