KOLKATA: Mercurial forward Dhanraj Pillay's dream of winning the oldest hockey tournament in the world came true at the Mohun Bagan ground here on Tuesday. The former India star fashioned Indian Airlines' fine victory over Border Security Force from Jalandhar with a solitary goal he scored in the 34th minute in an entertaining final of the Indian Oil 112th all-India Beighton Cup tournament.
Dhanraj was adjudged the best forward of the tournament, prevailing over a clutch of young hopefuls.
For BSF, it was the tale of another script going wrong. Having finished second best last year to Punjab & Sind Bank, BSF had to be content with the runner-up spot again. The six-time champion has been runner-up on the other four occasions it has reached the final. For IA, it was its third final in which it had won twice and lost once.
The winner took home Rs. 1 lakh while the runner-up was given Rs. 50,000.
Having last won the title in 1985, IA had been consistently failing to make it to the title round. Even last year IA fell to BSF in the semifinals.
Dhanraj spoke with emotion about the victory "My dream of winning the Beighton Cup has come true. This victory is one of the most cherished moments in my life."
It was an energy sapping final. The pace of the game was good and the combatants played an open game despite the bumpy surface. Slowly but surely, IA took control of the game within the first quarter and enjoyed a major share in the proceedings. BSF goalkeeper K.M. Subbaiah, adjudged the best in the meet, was called upon four times in the earlier half to thwart the IA forwards from scoring.
Dhanraj's form transformed his team into a fighting unit. With Vikram Pillay, adjudged the best centre-half of the tournament, playing his role to near perfection, Dhanraj's promptings from just behind the frontline was outstanding. He kept activating the wing play and joined in the attack to exert tremendous pressure on the rival defence.
In one such move seconds before the halftime, Dhanraj got hold of a stray ball just inside the striking circle, dribbled past a couple of sticks and pushed home amidst a host of players that gave Subbaiah no chance.
BSF came into the second half with renewed vigour and showed a lot of aggression. But the team lacked cohesion and team work, especially upfront. But for one Peter Tirkey's drive in the 54th minute, which was saved by Jagdish Ponnappa, BSF had nothing to offer during the game.
The Urban Development Minister Asok Bhattacharya distributed the prizes.