SPORT

Dilip Tirkey delivers

GETTING AWAY: Orissa Steelers' Adnan Zakir (right) weaves past Hyderabad Sultans' Tariq Aziz in their PHL match on Tuesday.

GETTING AWAY: Orissa Steelers' Adnan Zakir (right) weaves past Hyderabad Sultans' Tariq Aziz in their PHL match on Tuesday.   | Photo Credit: Photo: V. Ganesan

S. Thyagarajan

Steelers' tally goes up to eight

Chennai: In a listless contest that degenerated into a near fracas in the last quarter, Orissa Steelers obtained full points against Hyderabad Sultans on the strength of a solitary goal by Dilip Tirkey in the Premier Hockey League on Tuesday.

A few more encounters like this will only chase away what little crowds that turn up, notwithstanding the blandishments that will be on offer for the enthusiasts in the form of DVDs and other things from Wednesday.

Tirkey must be complimented for providing relief to the spectators by scoring in the final minute of regulation time. A penalty corner pushed by Bimal Lakra was badly stopped by full-back Saroha. As the ball rolled, Tirkey seized it with palpable relish. Appropriately, he was named man of the match.

Uneventful

The encounter was uneventful. While some credit should go to the manner in which the midfield functioned on both sides, the frontline remained ineffective. Even the usually ebullient Shakeel Abbasi was subdued right through, suffering from want of help from the rest of the forwards. Imagination and ingenuity were conspicuously absent in both attacks.

For Orissa Steelers, pivot Bimal Lakra worked hard; so did left-half Prabodh Tirkey. But the frontline failed to utilise the opportunities that came its way. Sultans looked up to Abbasi and Tariq to provide the sparkle but they were not given adequate support.

Though Sardar Singh and Didar Singh tried to settle into a rhythm, neither succeeded in giving the attack the punch it needed to take on a defence line headed by Tirkey.

Only once did Didar look dangerous in a penalty corner flick, but the Pakistani custodian Salman Akbar made a gallant save in his inimitable style. However, the proceedings remained sluggish, testing the patience of the crowd.

Bizarre tackles

The final quarter witnessed a few bizarre tackles. Off one such tackle, Dutch defender Steeler suffered a bleeding injury. Sultans' full back Sharanjit Singh promptly received the yellow card.

Within minutes, Adnan Zakir elbowed his Pakistani colleague Tariq and was shown the yellow card.

Even as there were visions of extra-time and tie-breaker came Tirkey's goal.

Orissa Steelers has eight points from three matches while Hyderabad Sultans remains at three out of four encounters.

The result: Orissa Steelers 1 (Dilip Tirkey) bt Hyderabad Sultans 0; Man of the match: Dilip Tirkey.

Wednesday's match: Chennai Veerans v Chandigarh Dynamos (7 p.m.).

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