Indian Railways beats HUTN, in last four

Bengaluru HA gets the better of Punjab & Sind Bank 3-0 in the Murugappa Gold Cup All-India hockey tournament.

V. R. Raghunath of Bengaluru Hockey Association celebrates after scoring against Punjab & Sind Bank in Chennai on Monday.   -  R. Ragu

The quality on view dipped considerably even as defending champion Indian Railways and Bengaluru HA scripted convincing victories in Pool 'A' matches of the 91st MCC-Murugappa Gold Cup All-India hockey tournament here on Monday.

Railways has virtually qualified for the semifinals with three wins from three matches. Bengaluru on the other hand, with two wins from three matches, appears on course to qualify as the second team from the same Pool.

While Railways walloped Hockey Unit of Tamil Nadu (HUTN) 4-0 in a match that should have seen the champion score much more, Bengaluru couldn't sustain its solid performance over BPCL the other day, but managed to defeat Punjab & Sind Bank 3-0.

It was a no-brainer as to who would win the Railways-TN contest, but the question was about the margin. Railways kept up the momentum even when it appeared like TN was desperate to slow down the pace. Karan Pal Singh opened the account through a penalty stroke. Soon, Pardeep Singh increased the margin through a deflection off a cross from the right. At the stroke of half-time, Pardeep ran from 25 yards and broke through the goal-line on the right side of the goalpost to pass it to Raju Pal, who tapped it home.

Railways dominated the narrative, and made the opposition defence to its tunes in the second half, too. Raju Pal made the most of the melee during the penalty corner conversion for the team's fourth and final goal. Thanks to the goalkeeper M. Arun Prasadh's efforts, the margin would have been much higher for Railways. The home side penalty corner conversions came under scanner, and of the four PC's, it took, none passed muster. It showed how far TN lags in a crucial aspect as drag-flicks in comparison to most other teams here.

By its high standards it displayed against a formidable BPCL the other day, Bengaluru was nowhere near its best. The forward-line appeared listless, tad slow to react to crosses. The victory, nevertheless, will provide a big boost in the forthcoming matches.

The results:

Pool A: Bengaluru HA 3 (V. R. Raghunath 49, Sandeep Singh 60, Rajkumar Pal 66) by Punjab & Sind Bank 0; Indian Railways 4 (Karan Pal Singh 5, Pardeep Singh 10, Raju Pal 35 & 42) bt HUTN 0.