Two penalty corner strikes, each as immaculate as the other, by Gagandeep Singh, enabled Indian Overseas Bank (IOB) hit the hat-trick in the Syed Ahmed Memorial hockey tournament, here on Sunday.

IOB won 2-1 against Integral Coach Factory (ICF) and claimed a cash prize of Rs. 50,000 before a large crowd at the Mayor Radhakrishnan Stadium. ICF was richer by Rs. 30,000.

Judged within the parameters of quality, the final was a low-key affair. Actually, it was ICF that produced a better blend of harmony and proficiency, although a handful of chances were frittered away in the final minutes.

The playmaker for ICF was the wing- half, Ramesh Babu, who not only worked like a beaver, but served some heady centres. The ICF forwards were guilty of flunking a few.

The IOB defenders were vulnerable against pressure. But goalkeeper Shan rose to the occasion whenever demanded. A few of his saves were eye catching. Even in the early minutes, he brought off a splendid save from Yuvaraj, who shot after taking a cross from Ramesh Babu.

Inside forward Aiyppan also had his moments although he ended without a goal in his name. But his pleasing passing bout with Aswin that brought the equaliser was the defining moment for ICF in the duel.

For no palpable reason, IOB looked laborious in its work outs. True, there were a few sinuous runs by Adam Sinclair and Mudappa, but the sallies were devoid of the sharpness required to overcome the rival defenders.

Gagandeep Singh hoisted the lead early with a thundering penalty corner hit and followed it with another equally impressive effort, a minute before the first-half. IOB had four penalty corners against the two, both in the second-half, by ICF. A fierce shot by Ashok Kumar was saved neatly by Shan and late in the second-half, another effort by Satish Kumar was also thwarted. But what ICF cannot forget was the miss by Aswin minutes before the final whistle after Aiyappan had provided an excellent cross.

Mr. G.R. Gandhi, General Manager, IOB, presided and gave away the prizes. Earlier, the teams were presented to Olympian Balwinder Singh and international Abul Aziz. Reehan Ahmed, Organising Secretary, welcomed the gathering.

The result: Final: IOB 2 (Gagandeep Singh 2) bt ICF 1 (Aswin) HT: 2-1. Man-of-the-Match: Gagandeep Singh. Player of the tournament: Aswin (ICF).

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