2019 Murugappa Gold Cup hockey: Indian Navy tops Pool B with win 1-0 over PSB

Bengaluru Hockey Association and Indian Navy recorded wins to top Pool A and Pool B respectively while Tamil Nadu secured its first point with a 2-2 draw against Central Secretariat on Sunday in the 2019 Murugappa Gold Cup hockey.

Indian Navy's Sunny Malik celebrates after scoring against PSB.   -  M. Vedhan

Indian Navy solidified its chances of reaching the semifinals of the 2019 Murugappa Gold Cup hockey tournament with a gritty 1-0 win over Punjab & Sind Bank (PSB) at the Mayor Radhakrishnan Stadium, Chennai on Sunday. Hockey Unit of Tamil Nadu held Central Secretariat to a 2-2 draw while Bengaluru Hockey Association (BHA) outclassed Indian Army 3-1 in the second match.

In the first match, TN went 1-0 up in the 28th minute when Vinod Rayer scored off a free-flowing counter attack which began with a free hit in TN’s half. Central Secretariat found the equaliser in the 42nd minute through Umar Mohammad while Mithlesh Kumar’s 50th-minute strike gave Central Secretariat a 2-1 lead.

In the 56th minute, M. Kannan nodded home the equaliser from close range as the host pushed for the winner. However, a series of stray passes foiled its final charge as TN had to be content with a draw – its first point from three matches.

In the second match, Indian Army took a 1-0 lead in the 11th minute through Rajnesh Salaria’s strike but BHA equalised through Mohammed Naeemuddin’s diving scoop at the near post. G. N. Pruthvi Raj added a second at the stroke of half-time. The forward was also involved in BHA’s third goal when his pass across the goalmouth was flicked into the net by former Indian international Pradhan Somanna in the 37th minute.

Army fluffed two glorious chances in the final quarter as it succumbed to its second loss in a row. As a result, BHA climbed to the top of Pool A with six points from three matches.

Pool B topper Indian Navy looked to improve its chances for the semifinals as it took on PSB in the third match. After a cagey first half which saw little goalmouth action, Navy’s Sunny Malik broke the deadlock in the 35th minute as he deflected a blind cross from the right into the net.

PSB won back-to-back corners in the 58th minute, but Navy’s runners thwarted the attempts to seal a 1-0 win.

The results:

Group-A: Bengaluru HA 3 (Mohammed Naeem Uddin 27, Prithvi Raj 30, Pradhan Somanna 37) bt Indian Army 1 (Rajnesh Salaria 11).

Group-B: Indian Navy 1 (Sunny Malik 35) bt PSB 0; HUTN 2 (V. Vinod Rayer 28, M. Kannan 56) drew with CS 2 (Umar Mohd. 42, Mithlesh Kumar 50).