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ONGC pips Army XI to enter semifinals

I’VE DONE IT! Bikash Toppo (jersey no.10) of ONGC is ecstatic after after scoring the match-winner against Army XI.

I’VE DONE IT! Bikash Toppo (jersey no.10) of ONGC is ecstatic after after scoring the match-winner against Army XI.  

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TN loses, but wins hearts with an attractive display

There was more action in the last few minutes than the entire duration of the Pool-B match between Army XI and ONGC in the 90th all-India MCC-Murugappa Gold Cup hockey tournament here on Thursday.

Needing a victory to qualify for the semifinals, ONGC struck off a penalty corner through Bikash Toppo at the death to pip Army 3-2.

Earlier, in a Pool-A contest, BPCL edged out Hockey Unit of Tamil Nadu 2-1.

Though BPCL and IOC had 10 points each and a similar goal difference of +8 each, IOC emerged the pool-topper based on the number of goals scored — 16 as compared to BPCL’s 11.

Strategic move

Trailing 1-2 and with time ticking away — with just three-odd minutes remaining — and Army needing at least a draw to qualify, replaced its goalkeeper Arpit Chowdary with an extra player in Jonny Jasrotia.

The move paid dividend as A.P. Siraju converted a penalty corner that went on to hit the top of the roof. Once the goal came, Jonny went out and the custodian Arpit returned.

During the dying minutes, ONGC’s counter-attack saw Manu Machmaiam make a wonderful run from the right. His push struck the leg of a defender, and a penalty corner was awarded.

For a moment everyone thought that ONGC had made a mess of its last chance when Harpal Singh couldn’t connect his drag-flick properly.

The ball travelled to Bikash, stationed to the right of the goalkeeper, who pushed it home and the ONGC camp celebrated.

Missed opportunities

Tamil Nadu created quite a few chances and dominated the first session with its forwards raiding the BPCL citadel frequently. But, it missed out on at least three clear goal-scoring chances.

In the 46th minute, Tamil Nadu conceded a soft goal when a shot by Devinder Walmiki went through the legs of custodian Arun Prasad. despite the shot lacking the required power.

It was a shocking error on the part of Arun. Though Hassan Basha equalised with a deflection, BPCL scored the match-winner when a pass from the left by Tushar Khandekar saw Amir Khan flicking it home.

In the semifinals on Saturday, Army will face IOC, while BPCL will lock horns with Indian Railways.

Friday is a rest day.

The results:

Pool-A: BPCL 2 (Devinder Walmiki 46, Amir Khan 68) bt Hockey Unit of Tamil Nadu 1 (Hassan Basha 64).

Pool-B: ONGC 3 (Manu Machmaiam 9, Diwaker Ram 44, Bikash Toppo 70) bt Army XI 2 (Ansham Hemrom 53, A.P. Siraju 67).

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Printable version | Dec 12, 2019 8:21:51 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/other-sports/ONGC-pips-Army-XI-to-enter-semifinals/article14628825.ece

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