Bharat Petroleum (BPCL) avenged last year’s defeat in the final of the Nehru senior hockey tournament with a 6-5 win over defending champion Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) in the semifinals at the Shivaji Stadium here on Sunday.
The game had to be decided by sudden death after the teams played out a dull 1-1 draw in regulation time and were tied 3-3 in the tie-break as well. Considered two of the best teams on the domestic circuit, the match was expected to be exciting but failed to rise above mediocre.
Both teams preferred to play safe despite having the most experienced forward line in India. And in the few chances that were created, the shots were way off the target.
If Yuvaraj Walmiki missed sitters for IOC, Tushar Khandker did the same for BPCL.
There was hardly any creativity in the midfield and all the players seemed to have simply turned up without really wanting to.
The timing of the match — shifted from late evening to early morning at the last minute due to broadcasting issues — did not help. In the tie-break, Varun Kumar and Ravi Pal scored off both their chances for BPCL while Jernail Singh scored once. For IOC, Vikas Sharma scored twice while Walmiki and Bharat Chikara scored once.
Easy for PSB
In the other semifinal, Punjab & Sind Bank (PSB) proved its superiority with an easy 4-2 victory over South Central Railway (SCR). SCR, which came through the qualifying rounds and had been impressive all through the tournament, was let down, both by its inexperience and a lack of co-ordination. PSB, on the other hand, rode on Sarvanjit Singh’s pace and skill to ensure a final spot. Though he did not score, Sarvanjit created chances and opened up gaps in the SCR defence for others to cash in on.
The results: Semifinals: BPCL 1 (Jernail Singh) drew with IOC 1 (Harmanpreet Singh) wins in tie-break.
PSB 4 (Parvinder Singh 2, Jagjit Singh, Karambir Singh) bt SCR 2 (Ponacha 2).