Chennai: Olympic and Asian Games stars added a touch of glamour to the Madras Cricket Club-Murugappa Gold Cup hockey tournament at the Mayor Radhakrishnan Stadium on Monday. There was the national captain, Dilip Tirkey, wielding the stick for the Indian Airlines, for whom Olympian Samir Dad turned in a splendid performance slotting three goals.
Airlines, which won against Karnataka XI in a Pool D match, featured five who played for India in the disastrous Asiad at Doha, while Ajmer Singh and Gurbaj Singh caught the attention for Air India, along with the former international and the dreaded drag flicker, Len Aiyappa, against Indian Railways in a drawn encounter in Pool C.
Consequent to its second defeat in successive days, the Karnataka squad made its exit, leaving, the defending champion, the Army XI, and Indian Airlines in the quarterfinal from Pool D.
But the best moments for the sizable crowd were provided by the young drag flicker of the IHF Development team, Vikramjit Singh. The two drag flick goals he produced were brilliant in execution, raising hopes that the national colours for him are only a matter of time.
Vikramjit's show coupled with the peach of a goal that Sarawanjit Singh scored in the second half almost brought the Development team against Mumbai XI back in contention for the quarter-final berth. The squad lost 2-5 against BPCL on the opening day. Mumbai takes on BPCL on Wednesday in the deciding match.
Mumbai had desperate efforts to gain the initiative but goal-keeper Choubey proved a hard nut to crack. He effected quite a few impressive saves from the attacks launched by winger Jayesh Yadav.
Samir Dad raised memories of his halcyon days netting three goals, each one as lovely to behold as the other. His second goal after a passing duel with Ravinder Singh contained an element of charm.
Mr.Rajiv Reddy, Organising Secretary, informed that Army Green from Dhanapur has withdrawn from the tournament following a disruption in its tour programme after the Kolkatta bandh.
This enables Indian Oil and Tamil Nadu XI make the grade from Pool B, with the former taking the top spot on account of the 3-1 victory gained on Sunday.
The results: Pool C: Indian Railways 1 (Prem Kumar) drew with Air India 1 ( Len Aiyappa) HT 1-0; Pool D: Indian Airlines 4 (Samir Dad 3, Ravinder Singh) beat Karnataka XI 1 (Adarsh Ganapathy): HT 3-0; Pool A: IHF Development 3 (Vikramjit Singh 2, Sarawanjit Singh) beat Mumbai XI 0; HT:2-0.
Tomorrow's matches: Air India v Namdhari XI (4-30 p.m.); Indian Airlines v Army XI (6-30 p.m.).