Air India Sports Promotion Board chipped away at Hockey Punjab’s confidence with stunning field goals to win the third Hockey India senior National championship at the Major Dhyan Chand stadium here on Monday.
Sameer Dad stamped his class, mixing grace and opportunism to complete a triangular passing bout for the first goal before five more followed in a 6-2 rout. Joining the party was Sameer’s nephew Affan Yousuf, who stood out for his endurance and enterprise. Four goals between the two were enough to knock out the opposition.
Deepak Thakur scored a brace for Punjab, but the battle was over by then. Air India slammed home two goals inside four minutes to rattle the holders in the first half. Prabodh Tirkey set the ball rolling with a wristy diagonal pass from the right towards Joga hovering around the right post. The latter anticipated the relay and changed the point of attack with a deflection to Sameer who slotted it home.
Sameer set up the second goal stylishly, weaving his way towards the Punjab goal and finding teammate Affan with a deceptive pass. The defenders were scrambling into position when the AI striker trapped, spun and reverse-hit a thundering shot into the goal.
Affan turned and twisted away from his marker and scored the fourth goal with a power-packed drive.
The results: Final: Air India 6 (Sameer Dad 2, Affan Yousuf 2, Joga Singh, Pradhan Somanna) bt Hockey Punjab 2 (Deepak Thakur 2).
Third place play-off:
Hockey Karnataka 3 (Poonacha, Nitin Thimmiah, S.K. Uthappa) bt HockeyHaryana 2 (Damandeep Singh, Yudhvir).