Mumbai downs Indian Airlines

Mumbai 3 Indian Airlines 2

PSB 5 Karnataka 1

By Our Hockey Correspondent

CHENNAI, JULY 12. Never mind the trace of monotony ingrained in the quality on show. Interest on Wednesday in the Madras Cricket Club-Murugappa Gold Cup hockey tournament centred around spotting the second set of qualifiers to complete the semifinal line-up at the Mayor Radhakrishnan Stadium.

Mumbai made it against the more famous Indian Airlines by the odd goal in five from Pool A. Punjab & Sind Bank, which recovered from a 0-1 deficit to whip Karnataka black and blue, topped Pool B on account of the better goal difference of plus four against Air India's plus two.

The semifinal line-up for Friday will be: Tamil Nadu v Air India; Punjab & Sind Bank v Mumbai.

There was no denying the edge that Mumbai enjoyed throughout the contest. Methodical, if not mellifluous, the Mumbai attack led by Mukhtiar Singh, put the rival defence under some stress. The early goal that Santha Kumar slotted in off the left-half Shayne D'Costa provided the right mood for Mumbai to keep the mode of attack at an even keel.

More than the frontline, it was the hard work put in by the mid- fielders, notably Shayne D'Costa that helped Mumbai to maintain a definite advantage in terms of the exchanges. Shayne could have enhanced the tally if only he had been a bit more alert to meet an adroit cross by Chandrapal Singh.

Consistency was not the strong point for Airlines whose dependence on Altaf-ur-Rehman was more than the forward could take.

He did try hard against the gallant goalkeeper Gurung, but had the mortification of taking a yellow card. However, Airlines enjoyed the consolation of levelling through a penalty corner hit by Rajnesh Mishra.

It was in the second half that Mumbai struck its true form. A brilliant counter attack after Gurung had stopped a penalty corner hit by Mishra culminated in Mukhtiar Singh releasing the ball in time for Chandrapal Singh to find the target. Applying relentless pressure, Mumbai struck again midway through with Chandrapal Singh sweeping the ball past Ashish Ballal after Stanley Fernandes had done the spade work.

Everything looked lost for Airlines but the team made an effort to be in the match till the final minute. Gurjant Singh put some life into the tie with a goal, eight minutes before the hooter, raising visions of a draw. But Mumbai held on gamely, and even rendered a last minute penalty corner ineffective.

PSB runs riot

Needlessly on the defensive when it was obvious that only a win would ensure it a place in the last four, Karnataka paid a heavy price for its weak defence. Even goalkeeper Arun Babu, who stole the show in the earlier encounter, was steeped in a pool of errors, making the task of PSB easier than it had imagined.

Actually, when Karnataka went ahead against the run of play through a well taken goal by Prakash Chalke off Cyprian Aind, it was thought that it would marshall its forces with imagination to defend the lead. But that was not to be, although Karnataka frustrated the rival by denying a chance to score from the six penalty corners that PSB earned. Arun Babu even brought off a splendid save from a shot by Rajinder Singh.

The match was transformed into a veritable goal riot for PSB, for whom Parminder Singh struck thrice. Making full use of the gap in the mid-field, which was without the seasoned and skillful Shanmugam, who had a yellow card - a rather harsh decision from umpire Suryaprakash - in the last minute of the first half, PSB launched a series of moves.

Parminder made capital of a defense lapse, which forced goalkeeper Arun Babu to leave his charge and run up to the fringe of the circle.

Within minutes, Sanjiv Kumar slotted in the lead and from then on PSB scored at will. Parminder Singh hit in two more even as the defence began to crack under the pressure exerted by the PSB frontline. Paramdeep Singh netted the fifth from a pass by Lakhwinder Singh to complete the nightmare for Karnataka.

Points tally (read under played, won, drew, lost, goals for, goals against, points): Pool A: Tamil Nadu: 3, 3, 0, 0, 4, 0, 9; Mumbai: 3, 2, 0, 1, 5, 5, 6; Indian Airlines: 3, 1, 0, 2, 4, 5, 3; Bengal: 3, 0, 0, 3, 2, 5, 0.

Pool B: Punjab & Sind Bank: 3, 2, 1, 0, 9, 5, 7; Air India: 3, 2, 1, 0, 8, 6, 7; Karnataka: 3, 1, 0, 2, 3, 6, 3; IHF Juniors: 3, 0, 0, 3, 7, 10, 0.

Thursday is a rest day.

The IHF will conduct an Umpires seminar at the Mayor Radhakrishnan Stadium on July 14 and 15. It will be organised under the supervision of Mr. Kuku Walia, Umpires' Manager, FIH. Umpires have been requested to attend the two-day meeting.

The Tamil Nadu Women's Hockey Association will conduct a Test match between India and Thailand on August 4.