Namdhari XI enters last eight

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ON TARGET: Amar Aiyamma (centre) was in his element for BPCL, scoring two goals against Mumbai XI. Photo: V. Ganesan
ON TARGET: Amar Aiyamma (centre) was in his element for BPCL, scoring two goals against Mumbai XI. Photo: V. Ganesan

Hockey Correspondent

  • Jasdev Singh's heroics for the Mumbai side went in vain
  • Railways also made the quarterfinal grade from Pool `C'

    Chennai: There was precious little to wax eloquent over the last two matches played on Wednesday, apart from stating that it signalled the end of phase one in the Madras Cricket Club-Murugappa Gold Cup hockey tournament at the Mayor Radhakrishan Stadium.

    A goalless draw was sufficient to see Namdhari XI and Indian Railways enter the last eight from Pool C. Namdhari XI topped the pool with four points followed by Railways (2) and Air-India (1).

    To describe the contest as drab might be inappropriate considering the intensity of the battle between two prominent squads on the National scene.

    In the early part, it was clear that Railways was enjoying the advantage in the rival area. Prompted well by the hard-working pivot, Amit Kumar, the Railways displayed noticeable vigour.

    Raju and Harish Kumar caught the attention with their crisp movements although success was eluding them.

    Missed chances

    Without being brilliant, the Namdhari defence, headed by Avtar Singh and Amanlok, was well positioned to smother the force in the rival attack. But if Railways failed to surge ahead it must blame itself for the sitters that Raju and Chander Kesh missed.

    The Namdhari attack, comparatively speaking, was anything but dominant. But there were a handful of moves threatening the Railway goal.

    In the second half, the Namdharis had the better of the exchanges and forced three penalty corners in quick succession.

    Gurvinder Singh's tries were well blocked by goalkeeper Fekerlo.

    Close game

    Victory for the formidable Bharat Petroleum was not as comfortable as imagined.

    The Mumbai XI stayed in the hunt till the final minute, despite being subjugated to persistent pressure.

    While the BPCL attack functioned well thanks to the fluent workouts on the flank by Ravi Pal, finishing was inadequate.

    True, Hari Prasad struck in the early minutes, but the frontline sallies appeared laborious. Veteran Sabu Varkey perked up the interest a bit displaying a good measure of his old stick work.

    But it was another seasoned campaigner, Amar Aiyamma who found the target not once but twice midway through the second half.

    Classy strike

    At least one goal of Amar Aiyamma, a cross from Pal bore the stamp of class, as he smashed the ball from the top of the circle to the roof of the net.

    At 0-3 any other side would have given up. But the Mumbai players were not willing to take defeat lying down.

    Jasdev Singh played a heroic role slotting in two goals, giving the BPCL defence moments of tension. A draw looked very much a possibility till the last minute.

    BPCL topped Pool A with six points, while IHF Development finished next on account of goal difference of zero against minus four by Mumbai XI.

    The quarterfinal line up is as following: BPCLvs. Indian Railways; IHF Development vs. Namdhari XI; Indian Oil vs. Army XI; Tamil Nadu vs. Indian Airlines.

    Thursday is a rest day.

    The results: Pool A: BPCL 3 (Hari Prasad, Amar Aiyamma 2) bt Mumbai XI 2 (Jasdev Singh 2). Man of the match: Amar Aiyamma.

    Pool C: Indian Railways 0 drew with Namdhari XI. MOM: Fekerolo (Railways).

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