A mix of the prosaic and the pulsating

BATTLE FOR POSSESSION: Karnataka's Girish Ganapathy (left) and ONGC's Sandeep Antil vie for the ball on Thursday.  

The opening day of the MCC-Murugappa Gold Cup hockey tournament produced interesting fare here on Thursday.

While ONGC scored a comfortable 4-2 victory over Karnataka XI in pool A, India Juniors almost overcame the formidable BPCL but for a goal in the dying minutes by Sabu Varkey signalled a 1-1 draw.

The Indian colts clung on to the early goal by skipper Lalith Upadyaya and repulsed every move of the rival.

Lalith Upadyaya led the attack with confidence and had good support from Irfan Affan, whose runs down the left flank caused considerable alarm in the BPCL defence.

As the team moved close to an upset victory the script changed.

BPCL needed a veteran to pull in the equaliser and the former star, Sabu Varkey, did the trick. He did so with a fluent shot from top of the circle shattering the confidence of goalkeeper Navin Kumar.

Notwithstanding a late rally in the second half, the intensity of fight put up by Karnataka proved insufficient to stem the tide against the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC).

Nothing mirrors this than the final tally although at one point shortly after half-time the Karnataka team had considerably narrowed down the leeway to 2-1.

The focus, undoubtedly, was on ace penalty corner striker Diwakar Ram. But he did not emerge as the key player in the team although he produced a thundering shot late in the match — one minute before close to be precise — to get into the scorers' list.

What attracted notice in ONGC's display was the system and consistency of the frontline attack led well by Pramod Kumar, assisted by Sandeep Antil and Jagwant Singh. It did not come as a surprise when each one of them slotted in a goal.

When Ravi Kumar slammed in a penalty corner shortly after the break it signalled a fightback from Karnataka. After Jagwant hoisted the third goal for ONGC, Nithin Thimmiah netted four minutes from the end. Karnataka still was in the fight, but Diwakar Ram snuffed out all hopes of a further recovery.

The results: ONGC 4 (Pramod Kumar, Sandeep Antil, Jagwant Singh, Diwakar Ram) beat Karnataka XI 3 (Ravi Kumar, Nithin Thimmiah).

India Juniors 1 (Lalith Upadyaya) drew with BPCL 1 (Sabu Varkey).

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Printable version | May 9, 2021 12:57:43 AM |

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