Air India lived up to its pre-tournament favourite tag, beating Punjab and Sind Bank 2-0 in the final of the Oriental Bank-Maharaja Ranjit Singh hockey tournament on Saturday.
Prabodh Tirkey put Air India ahead in the 29th minute and Vikram Pillay completed the scoring in the 57th minute.
Air India, which had struggled so far in the tournament, chose the final to completely dominate the opposition. It was, in fact, a victory of experience over youth.
Even though the youthful P&SB side tried to match its fancied opponent, the team was let down by poor finishing. Karamjit Singh and Ramandeep Singh, in particular, were guilty of wasting chances – either failing to reach the ball in time or hitting it over the crossbar.
For Air India, veterans Arjun Halappa, V.S. Vinaya and Sameer Dad marshalled the midfield well enough to keep the ball and toy with the opposition.
Prabodh got the first goal off Air India’s second penalty corner, slotting the ball in after getting it on the right from V.S. Vinaya. In the second half, Upadhyay missed three clear goals within five minutes before Vikram, carrying the ball from the midfield, decided to finish the job himself and slotted the ball in past P&SB goalkeeper Guriqbal Singh.
Air India took home Rs. 1.5 lakh and runner-up 1 lakh.