In a contest that was eventful and exciting, Chennai Cheetahs managed only a 3-3 draw against Pune Strykers, in the Bridgestone World Series Hockey (WSH), at the Mayor Radhakrishnan Stadium on Friday.

After five matches, Cheetahs has taken its points tally to seven, while the Pune team has enlarged its lead to nine from the same number of matches.

It was a match that Cheetahs could have wrapped up with a little more resilience in defence. Cheetahs went three goals ahead before Pune Strykers fought back with commendable application and spirit.

Chennai had a glorious start when Adam Sinclair connected a perfect centre by Mark Harris inside the opening few minutes. Subsequently, the frontline, despite the fluent runs by new recruit Peter Kelly, the Cheetahs failed to exert noticeable pressure. Brent Livermore and Vikram Pillay in the midfield held on gamely striving hard to find openings.

It was the Pune Strykers who showed more consistency and craft in the workouts. Served beautifully by the Canadian stalwart, Ken Pereira, and supported well by Birendra Lakra, the midfield controlled the trend almost impeccably.

Equaliser

The equaliser from an eye-catching backhander by Rohan Minz conveyed the mood of the Pune team. When Imran Warsi pumped in a penalty corner in the second quarter, the retaliation was swift and sure. A long pass by Pereira provided a perfect platform for the Argentine star, Mario Alamada, to flick across a measured centre. Bikash Toppo provided the finishing touches.

A goal line save by Amit Gowda delayed the third goal for Chennai.

But Imran netted his 10th goal in the championship, raising hopes of a victory. Cheetahs went into the fourth quarter with a 3-2 lead.

But six minutes before the hooter came the leveller from the gangling Simrandeep Randhawa, pushing the Chennai supporters into the valley of disappointment.

At the end of the day, the verdict fully justified the run of play. For the Chennai team, it was again a case of so near and yet so far.

Cheetahs take on Karnataka Lions on Saturday.

The result:

Chennai Cheetahs 3 (Adam Sinclair, Imran Warsi 2) drew with Pune Strykers 3 (Roshan Minz, Bikas Toppo, Simrandeep Randhawa).

Tomorrow's matches: Chennai Cheetahs vs Karnataka Lions (7 p.m.), Chennai; Bhopal Badshahs vs Sher-e-Punjab (9 p.m.), Bhopal.

Correction: The owners of the Chennai Cheetahs are the Nanwanis and not the Lalwanis as stated in the report that appeared on March 9.

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