From 3-1 at half-time, and 4-2 midway in the second half, BPCL caved in the face of an admirable display of fortitude and fluency from IOCL to lose 6-4 in tumultuous semifinal encounter in the MCC-Murugappa Gold Cup hockey tournament on Saturday.

IOCL will face IOB in the final on Sunday, after the latter eliminated PNB 5-2.

The contest hung in a balance right until three minutes before time, but a move by Prabhjot Singh and the finish by Dharavamvir Singh hoisted the 6-4 verdict in a glorious finish.

It is not difficult to identify the hero of this contest. With four goals when goals were most needed, Raghunath proved what an asset he is to IOCL as a penalty corner striker. His tally included a penalty stroke.

Off the mark

Getting off the mark early through Sher Singh, followed by strikes from Gurpreet Singh and Pundalik Bellary, BPCL had the rival defenders on their knees. A splendid goal by Roshan Minz off Dharamvir fired up IOCL attack, which was still fighting a 2-4 deficit.

It was then that Raghunath converted two penalty corners and a stroke to put the team in the lead nine minutes from the final whistle.

Intense pressure at the IOCL goal area led to moments of tension, resulting in yellow cards to Birendra Lakra and Deepak Thakur. But Dharamvir’s strike decisively settled the issue in IOCL’s favour.

The second semifinal, interrupted by rain for over 35 minutes after 21 minutes of play, was a comparatively sedate affair.

IOB, aided by a self goal, jumped into the lead.

PNB’s forwards, notably Damandeep and Jalwinder, troubled the IOB defenders but were unlucky when a backhander by Jalwinder crashed against the post and spun back into play.

IOB consolidated with a brilliant goal by Adam Sinclair off a forward pass by Rafeeq, and thereafter was content to just defend the lead, Sreejesh pulling a lovely save off a penalty corner by Jitender Saroha being the highlight.

PNB maintained pressure on the IOB defenders in the last quarter, but it was IOB that struck through Rayar.

Still, PNB’s persistence yielded reward when Arjun tapped in a rebound off Sreejesh’s pads, after he stopped a penalty corner hit by Saroha.

But IOB had the final say, with Shanmugam and Rayar scoring.

DD (Sports) will telecast the final live from 6-15 p.m. on Sunday.

The results: Semifinals: IOCL 6 (V.R. Raghunath-4, Roshan Minz, Dharamvir) bt BPCL 4 (Sher Singh, Gurpreet Singh, Pundalik Bellary, Hari Prasad).

IOB 5 (own goal, Adam Sinclair, Vinod Rayar-2, Shanmugam) bt PNB 2 (Arjun, Damandeep).

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