Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) won its first ever Nehru Cup hockey title when it tamed Punjab National Bank (PNB) 1-0 in a lacklustre final at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium here on Friday.

The win was worth Rs. 2.5 lakh but the team's reputation rose many ranks as ONGC played to a plan and emerged a deserving winner. PNB had its moments but ONGC was the one to seize and make a statement on its improved status.

Bikash Toppo was the scorer in the 25th minute. He watched Gurwinder Singh Chandy work hard for the ball and as it lay loose he pounced on the chance. It was Toppo's splendid opportunism that made the day for ONGC.

Aimless moves

PNB looked anxious and was the first to launch forays. A skirmish in front of the ONGC goal early in the contest promised a goal but PNB failed to finish. The game meandered. It was mostly drab and the moves aimless. PNB wasted four penalty corners, all in the second half, while ONGC frittered away two in the first. With Chandy nursing a thigh injury, ONGC was under pressure in the second half as it fell on the defensive. “We are happy to lift the title. We had to work hard in the second half as two players were not at their best,” said ONGC coach Rajdeep Singh. The ONGC coach gave credit to defender Baljinder Singh and goalkeeper Kamaldeep Singh for their consistency.

PNB received Rs. 1.25 lakh for finishing runner-up while Satinder Sharma, who officiated in the final along with Bhupinder Singh, was declared the best umpire of the tournament. — Special Correspondent

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