Bharat Petroleum lifts cup

HAVING THE LAST LAUGH: BPCL prevailed over IOC in the final of the MCC-Murugappa Gold Cup hockey tournament.

HAVING THE LAST LAUGH: BPCL prevailed over IOC in the final of the MCC-Murugappa Gold Cup hockey tournament.   | Photo Credit: PHOTO: R. RAGU

Hockey Correspondent

Chennai: Bharat Petroleum lifted the glittering gold cup in the Madras Cricket Club-Murugappa hockey tournament prevailing over Indian Oil at the Mayor Radhakrishnan Stadium on Monday, in a marathon contest that consumed over two-and-a-quarter hours stretching into extra-time, tie-breaker and to the eventual sudden death phase.

That the final tally was 9-8 (1-1 at regulation time) conveys the intensity of the contest that lifted itself from the plane of mediocrity only on a few occasions; one was the spectacular equaliser that Prabhjot Singh struck with a backhander, and the other was the all important save that Muthappa effected from Rajpal Singh to claim the prize money of Rs. 1,30,000, while Indian Oil got the cheque for Rs. 80,000.

Midfield domination

It was a pity that the final had to sail through a prosaic course largely due to the mid-field domination. The frontline on both sides had to labour hard to weave moves consistently. Individually, Amar Aiyamma and Sabu Varkey, and Hari Prasad, shone for BPCL, while the focus in Indian Oil was on the swift running of Deepak Thakur and Rajpal Singh, with a flourish here and there by Prabhjot Singh.

BPCL was served in the defence by William Xalco and Ajay Saroha as also by the mid-fielder Prabhdeep Singh. For Indian Oil, left half Jaswinder produced a stream of passes with Viren Resquinha coming with a few well-angled forward passes.

When BPCL went ahead from a goal by Tushar Khandekar it looked as though it was only a matter of time before it consolidated position. The goal resulted from a cross by Hari Prasad that culminated in a skirmish after goalkeeper Devesh Chauhan effected a save off Ravipal. But Tushar had the last laugh, flicking the ball into the net.

BPCL struggled to hold onto the lead but succeeded in keeping the scoreboard from moving. But 12 minutes before the regulation time came the peach of a goal from Prabhjot Singh, who provided the finishing touches to a cross from Deepak Thakur.

Tantalising moments

Excitement increased as both made a gallant quest for the match-winner, which eluded both, despite the tantalising moments at both ends. Chances were missed, and at least one by Amar Aiyamma that would have proved the golden goal hit the post and bounced back.

Inevitably, the encounter entered the extra-time at 1-1, and the teams were locked at 4-4, forcing the sudden death phase to a nail-biting 4-3 in favour of BPCL till Rajpal's push was saved by Muthappa.

Before the match, a minute's silence was observed as a mark of respect to the memory of Al. Lakshmanan, who was instrumental in starting this cup tournament in 1962.

Mr. M. A. Alagappan, Executive Chairman, Murugappa Group, presided and gave away the prizes. Mr. K. Premkumar, President, MCC, welcomed the gathering, while Mr. S. L. Rajiv Reddy, Organising Secretary, proposed a vote of thanks.

Mr. A. Vellayan, vice-chairman, Murugappa Group, gave away the MCC-AMM Arunachalam Challenge Cup.

The results: (final): BPCL 1 (Tushar Khandekar) bt Indian Oil 1 (Prabhjot Singh) tie-breaker: BPCL (M. K. Prakash, Deepak Sharma, Prabhdeep, Irshad Ali); IOC 4 (Didar Singh, Raghunath, Bharath Chikara, Deepak Thakur); Sudden death: BPCL 4 ( Prakash, Deepak Sharma, Prabhdeep, Irshad ali): IOC 3 ( Didar, Raghunath, Bharath Chikara): Total 9-8: Man of the match: M. K. Muthppa (goalkeeper) BPCL.

Player of the tournament: Deepak Thakur (Indian Oil); Best forward: Amar Aiyamma (BPCL); Promising player: Bikramjit Singh (IHF Development); Best goalkeeper: Swinder Singh (Namdhari).

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