There was a cornucopia of goals in the MCC-Murugappa Gold Cup hockey tournament on Monday. A total of 22 goals came on the board from three matches.
And at the end of the day, there was one clear picture; the entry of ONGC into the semi-final from Pool A with nine points from a sequence of three victories, the last against Namdhari by the odd goal in five.
More than statistics, the goals— some were truly spectacular— mirrored the intensity of the competition as the splendid fight-back that Railways showed— the team obtained fourth goal equalizer (4-4) one minute before close— against the Army in a Pool A encounter at the Mayor Radhakrishnan Stadium.
A stunning deflection by Chengappa seconds before the hooter stupefied goal-keeper P.T. Rao.
The Army, after pushing back all the bitterness generated from the tempestuous encounter on Sunday leading to an assault on the umpire, performed with palpable assurance, especially after trailing 1-3 shortly past the half-time and leading 4-3 when only three minutes remained.
The ding-dong battle kept the crowd in good cheer throughout. It was Ignace who led the goal riot in his inimitable style for Army but before the break Innocent Kullu made use of a stroke to bring the teams on par.
After that break Railways enjoyed spells of ascendency as Chenglein Sana netted, followed by the fine effort from Sunil Yadhav who tapped in an accurate cross from Deepak Ekka.
Then it was Army's turn to exert pressure after goal-keeper P.T. Rao had brought of a few smart saves. A sharp flick by Jerum Kujur followed by a penalty corner strike by Reneil Singh pushed Army on top.
But the happiness of the lead provide evanescent when Chengappa deflected a well angled cross from Vivek Singh.
The two seasoned stars in the IOC squad performed their task to perfection in piloting their team to its second successive victory in Pool B. Deepak Thakur, always a delight to behold when on the move or meeting the pass inside the circle, netted three goals in the 6-3 score. Not far behind was the winger Prabhjot Singh whose two goals, one in each half, had everything that a connoisseur is waiting to watch.
It would be unfair to say that PNB was outplayed. True, the players were buoyed by their success against BPCL in the opening match but on this somnolent Monday afternoon PNB looked totally subdued if not completely subjugated.
The team managed to reduce the leeway — it was on a 0-3 deficit at half-time — scoring thrice, twice by Satpal and once by Jatinder Saroha.
Muhammad Munir, Tournament Director, has suspended Sunil Ekka, who received the red card for assaulting umpire Surya Prakash (level 2 offence) on Sunday from taking further part in the tournament.
A photography contest is being organized as part of this year's tournament. Images of players' action, crowd reactions or any other interesting aspects connected with the tournament from July 15 to 25 can be sent on or before July 30.
Contestants are requested to register themselves in three categories; amateur, professional or school/college students. The first prize for the winner is Rs.45000. Further details can be had from www.murugappa.com.
Correction: Army's skipper C.S. Xalxo, was given only an yellow card and not red as reported in the match between Army and ONGC in the Murugappa Gold Cup hockey tournament on Sunday.
IOC 6 (Raghunath, Deepak Thakur 3, Prabjot Singh 2) bt PNB 3 (Satpal 2, Jatinder Saroha); Army 4 (Ignace Tirkey, Reneil Singh 2, Jerun Kujur) drew with Railways 4 (Innocent Kullu, Chenglein Sana, Sunil Yadav, Chengappa); ONGC 3 (Bikas Toppo, Diwakar Ram 2) bt Namdhari 2 (Harpreet Singh, Gurbej Singh).
Keywords: MCC-Murugappa hockey tournament