Murugappa Cup Hockey

IOC wins title in style by blanking Railways

Triumphant: The IOC team celebrates after beating Railways in the final.

Triumphant: The IOC team celebrates after beating Railways in the final.   | Photo Credit: M. Vedhan

Drag-flickers prove critics wrong with an excellent display

Of all the criticisms thrown at the Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) team in the MCC-Murugappa Gold Cup 92nd all-India hockey tournament, one statistic stood out like a sore thumb. It was its poor penalty corner conversion rate with drag-flickers like Olympian V.R. Raghunath and a promising Gurjinder Singh in its ranks.

On Sunday, IOC proved everyone wrong with a majestic performance to blank Indian Railways 4-0 in the final, with two of those coming off penalty corners (it had three in all).

Taken by surprise

IOC took Railways completely by surprise in the manner in which it scored off the corners.

First, off a push from Talwinder, Raghunath used the curve of his stick to hold the ball, turn it around and pass to Gurjinder, who found the top of the roof with a fierce drag-flick.

With Roshan Minz scoring earlier with a backhander, Railways was already down by two goals. And not even 20 minutes was over in the first half.

Stupefied

The third, again off a penalty corner, left Railways stupefied. Talwinder’s push from the backline saw Raghunath pass it back to Talwinder, who pushed it home in a sitting posture.

It was one variation that IOC hadn’t used much in the run-up to the final. The match was as good as over then.

IOC put pressure with repeated raids on both flanks right from the start. International Affan Yousuf, on the left, made maximum inroads into the Railways camp.

Railways changed its goalkeeper midway, bringing in Amrit Pal Singh for Mujahid Khan. However, that didn’t change the 2016 champion’s fortunes.

Credit to IOC as it didn’t allow Railways, an explosive team with an equally effective frontline, to settle down. There wasn’t many incisive moves by the Railways that troubled IOC’s ’keeper.

Deepak Thakur, IOC’s head coach, said his strategy was to score goals at the earliest and put Railways under pressure as it was not used to rallying from behind.

“They are used to being in a comfort zone in this tournament. We put them under pressure and they crumbled,” he said.

Praise from coach

Thakur praised Gurjinder and said that the drag flicker could be a replacement for Rupinder Pal Singh in times to come.

“My boys showed character by coming back when they were down.”

IOC was richer by ₹5 lakh while Railways received ₹2.5 lakh.

M.A. Alagappan, former chairman, Murugappa Group, was the chief guest.

The results (final): IOC 4 (Roshan Minz 14, Gurjinder Singh 18, Talwinder Singh 21, Bharat Chikara 52) bt Indian Railways 0.

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Printable version | Apr 6, 2020 1:43:03 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/hockey/ioc-wins-title-in-style-by-blanking-railways/article24962253.ece

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