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Emphatic win for Indian Airlines

Hockey Correspondent

Chennai: Experience and expertise unfolded in the right proportion to give Indian Airlines, an emphatic 4-0 victory over MEG, Bangalore, in a Pool A tie of the MCC-Murugappa Gold Cup hockey tournament at the Mayor Radhakrishnan Stadium here on Friday. All the four goals came in the first half.

With a plethora of internationals in its ranks, victory for Indian Airlines was not hard to predict. But the manner in which team slackened in the second half came as a surprise. In fact, there were moments when it looked as though MEG might reduce the margin.

Though consistency was not its forte the Airlines frontline flashed into the picture repeatedly. This was largely due to the hard work on the wing by Arjun Halappa. The seasoned Dhanraj Pillay made only a few incisive moves, but whenever he surged there was a ripple of excitement, which only underscored his popularity despite leaving his best years behind him.

Early goal

An early goal by Girish Pimpale set Airlines on course. Midway through, a penalty corner conversion by Arjun Halappa enlarged the lead. Still the team did not work in harmony despite the impressive work in the mid-field by Bimal Lakra and Prabhodh Tirkey.

As the principal striker, Sandeep Michael had very little to show. Close on half-time, he missed a sitter when the ball was served to him after a nice work out by Pillay and Pimpale. However, he made amends when he slotted a rebound after goal-keeper Najmuddin stopped a shot from Brojen Singh. A minute before half-time, a Halappa pass put Altaf-ur-Rehman in position to score the fourth goal.

Measure of punch

MEG strove hard in the second half to keep itself in the fight. Prompted well by Manoj Ekka from the mid-field, the MEG attack carried a noticeable measure of punch. Anand Tirkey looked prominent as did E. Ekka whose rasping shot was saved in the nick of time by Airlines goal-keeper, Jagdish Ponnappa. Late in the match Tiru and N. Sendhil troubled by the Airlines keeper who however was alert and athletic enough to keep the score-line safe.

In a tale of wasted chances, Karnataka and Border Security Force, picked a point each after a goal-less draw in Pool D. There were several moments to relish in the contest in which Karnataka was decidedly better in all aspects, minus shooting.

Despite the fluent runs down the line by Anup Antony and the probes by Laxman Rao, the frontline failed to make capital of the openings. It was not merely inaccuracy at the all-important end but abominable flippancy in finishing. Abhinav Ganapathy for instance scooped the ball over the post when only goal-keeper Subbiah was in front early in the encounter.

BSF perforce had to lay more emphasis on defence and held on tenaciously with Gurdeep Singh intercepting some clipping moves. Sushil Khajur provided a few anxious moments to Bharat Chetri who however emerged successful when it came to meeting the shots with aplomb.

But this was an encounter that Karnataka should have pocketed without much ado. Even in the second half, it could not take advantage of the chances.

The results: Indian Airlines 4 (Girish Pimpale, Arjun Halappa, Sandeep Michael, Altaf-ur-Rehman) bt MEG, Bangalore, 0; Karnataka 0 drew with BSF 0.

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