2019 Murugappa Gold Cup hockey: IOC begins title defence with nervy 3-2 win

A superb dragflick from Gurjinder Singh in the final minutes of the match helped defending champion IOC secure a 3-2 win against Indian Army in its first match of the 2019 Murugappa Gold Cup hockey tournament.

Gurjinder Singh of IOC (left) celebrates after scoring a goal against Indian Army during the 93rd All India MCC-Murugappa Gold Cup Hockey Tournament at the Mayor Radhakrishnan Stadium in Chennai on Saturday.

Gurjinder Singh of IOC (left) celebrates after scoring a goal against Indian Army during the 93rd All India MCC-Murugappa Gold Cup Hockey Tournament at the Mayor Radhakrishnan Stadium in Chennai on Saturday.   -  M. Vedhan

Gurjinder Singh came to the rescue of defending champion Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) as it began its 2019 Murugappa Gold Cup campaign with a 3-2 win over Indian Army on Saturday. Even as Punjab National Bank beat Indian Air Force 2-1 in the first match, Punjab & Sind Bank (PSB) got held to a 1-1 draw by Railways Sports Promotion Board (RSPB) at the Mayor Radhakrishnan Stadium, Chennai.

Defending champion IOC won two penalty corners in the first quarter but it was Indian Army which took the lead in the 15th minute. A one-touch passing move involving Sanjay Toppo and Vishwa Thakur fell to Jitender Rathee who deflected the ball past the keeper to give his side the lead.

In the 20th minute, Army goalkeeper Akash Chikte made a double save from a penalty corner but was unable to prevent Armaan Qureshi’s equaliser off a goalmouth melee. Affan Yousuf put the holder ahead in the 33rd minute, slotting home S. K. Uthappa’s pass from the right side.

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In the third quarter, Army was presented with a big opportunity to equalise from a penalty stroke, but Vishal Singh’s tame spot flick was saved by keeper Pankaj Rajak. IOC’s claims for a foul were ignored by the umpire when Army equalised in the 53rd minute from a penalty corner .

Army created a couple of good chances as it pushed for the third goal, but Gurjinder Singh kept his calm and won the match for IOC with a 56th minute dragflick into the roof of the net.

In the first match of the day, PNB took a 1-0 lead through Satender Dalal’s solo goal in the 14th minute. Sukhjeet Singh added a second in the 32nd minute from a penalty corner but IAF pulled one back through Ajit Pandit’s goal from a PC in the 40th minute. IAF pushed for an equaliser but wasted two corners as PNB saw the game out 2-1.

In the second match, Gaganpreet Singh (35’) opened the scoring for PSB, but P. R. Aiyappa’s (38’) finished from a penalty stroke to secure a 1-1 draw for RSPB.

Results

Group-A: IOC 3 (Armaan Qureshi 19', Affan Yousuf 32', Gurjinder Singh 56') bt Indian Army 2 (Jitender Rathee 15', Sukhdeep Singh 53'); PNB 2 (Satender Dalal 14', Sukhjeet Singh 32') bt IAF 1 (Ajit Pandit 40').

Group-B: PSB 1 (Gaganpreet Singh 35') drew with Railways 1 (P.R. Aiyappa 38').