Air India walloped Rajasthan 9-0 to register a second successive win in the 2nd Hockey India Senior National championships here on Monday. During what was a vastly lopsided Pool E game at the KSHA Stadium, the veteran Sameer Dad scored twice before goals for six other players saw Rajasthan embarrassed.
If Air India had faced some resistance from Madhya Pradesh on Sunday night, there was none the following afternoon. Rajasthan saw negligibly little of the ball, and spent the bulk of the 70 minutes camped inside its own half. The only shot on goal came from a penalty corner in the opening few seconds. That opportunity was, however, passed up.
It was all one-way traffic thereafter as Air India won four penalty corners in quick succession. All four were fluffed, to the vocal dismay of coach Dhanraj Pillay, but the opening goal was not much longer in arriving.
Running down the inside-left channel, Dad fired in from a tight angle in the 22nd minute. Prabodh Tirkey scored seven minutes later, before Sandeep Singh’s drag flick sent Air India 3-0 into the break.
The airmen could have finished better, and by stronger opposition will probably be punished for it, but on this occasion, there was nothing to fret about. Two minutes into the second half, V.S. Vinaya’s drive from the right deflected in off a Rajasthan stick. The right-half would get his own name on the scoresheet a minute from time. In between, there were goals for Pradhan Somanna, Birendra Lakra and Arjun Halappa as Air India completed an effortless win.
TN thrashes Gujarat
Over at the MEG grounds, Tamil Nadu handed out a 25-1 mauling to Gujarat in Pool G while Odisha, Punjab and Haryana too recorded emphatic victories. Meanwhile, Arunachal Pradesh officially pulled out of the tournament, meaning Pool C will now be treated as a four-team group.
The results: Pool A: Haryana 8 (Didar Singh 4, 45, Arjun Antil 34, Bharat Chikara 49, Naveen Antil 51, Gagandeep Singh 59, Karamjit Singh 65, Sardar Singh 70) bt Bengal 0; Bhopal 2 (Affan Yousuf 22, 63) bt Maharashtra 1 (Narad Bahadur 44).
Pool C: Punjab 12 (Gurjinder Singh 2, Akashdeep Singh 10, 41, 50, 52, 69, Ravipal Singh 11, 23, Sarvanjit Singh 17, 26, 62, Talwinder Singh 59) bt Chhattisgarh 0.
Pool E: Air India 9 (Sameer Dad 22, 47, Prabodh Tirkey 29, Sandeep Singh 34, OG 37, Pradhan Somanna 44, Birendra Lakra 56, Arjun Halappa 67, V.S. Vinaya 69) bt Rajasthan 0; Madhya Pradesh 9 (Shakir Hussain 6, Arman Qureshi 12, Nilakanth Sharma 14, 47, Sarfaraz Khan 24, Raju Singh 51, Md. Nizamuddin 56, Amit Kumar Singh 57, Vikas Choudhary 64) bt Nagaland 2 (Keduneizo 17, Md. Asif 66).
Pool G: Odisha 17 (A.M. Tirkey 11, Sunil Toppo 12, 31, 32, John Toppno 18, Ignacius Toppo 29, Deepak Kullu 30, 32, Mikhal Barla 33, 46, Aijub Ekka 37, 40, David Minz 43, Stanli Minz 48, Bipin Kerketta 49, 63, Dilip Toppo 70) bt Kerala 0; Tamil Nadu 25 (Damu 6, 28, 30, 49, Rupinderpal Singh 11, 27, 56, 58, 69, Gunasekar 13, Sivamani 16, Kannan 19, 46, 51, 63, 68, V. Raja 25, 40, Vinod Rayer 33, 47, 55, Arun Stalin 36, Suresh Kumar 54, Manoj 65, Lakshman Karan 70) bt Gujarat 1 (Ravendra Kumar 62).