Murugappa Gold Cup: Indian Railways, PNB continue winning streak

Railways played an all-out attacking game as it has been doing in its previous matches, to blunt BPCL 4-2 while PNB blanked Army XI 3-0 in a contest, which saw the former struggle to convert in the first session.

Shamsher Singh drew first blood for PNB.   -  M. Vedhan

Two of the best teams on view in the league stages, Indian Railways and Punjab National Bank (PNB), placed in different pools, did well to complete an all-win record (four wins from four matches) in the 91st MCC-Murugappa Gold Cup All-India hockey tournament here on Wednesday.

Railways played an all-out attacking game as it has been doing in its previous matches, to blunt BPCL 4-2 while PNB blanked Army XI 3-0 in a contest, which saw the former struggle to convert in the first session.

Earlier, in the first match of the day, Hockey Unit of Tamil Nadu (HUTN) pulled off an upset 3-2 win over Punjab & Sind Bank (PSB), though its chances of qualifying to the last four appear very slim. With three points from three matches, HUTN has to defeat Bengaluru HA (also three points from three) by a goal margin of six goals to make the knock-out.

Army XI played deep in a bid to control the rampant attack of PNB and it paid dividends. How much ever, PNB tried to penetrate the circle, Army's defence was up to the task. Gagandeep Singh (Sr) initiated the attack with a run from 25 yards.

He ran into the circle to pass it to Naveen Antil who in turn relayed it to Gurjinder Singh, whose backhander went straight to the 'keeper's pads. That was the only notable move by PNB in a goalless first half.

Shamsher Singh scored the team's first goal. With a defender chasing Shamsher and the 'keeper Arpit Choudary approaching him, Shamsher struck but the ball hit the keeper's pads and ballooned, only to find the back of the net.

A few minutes later, Gagandeep Singh (Jr) struck two back to back penalty corners, which were packed with as much power,  but Arpit came up with two fine saves.

Known for its short passing game, PNB struck its second goal in a pleasing manner. Sukhjeet Singh dribbled past a series of defenders from the left and passed it to Gagandeep Singh (Sr), who provided a neat tap to Shamsher, who smashed it into the top of the roof.

Sanjay's shot, though weak off a penalty corner, found the back of the net, and the bank's third goal summed up its domination in the second half.

Meanwhile, heavy downpour stopped the start of the second half of the Railways-BPCL contest for nearly 30 minutes.

Thursday is the last day of the Pool matches.

The results:

Pool 'A': Indian Railways 4 (Ajit Kumar Pandey 19, Malak Singh 32, Ajmer Singh 34, Raju Pal 38) bt BPCL 2 (Abishek 12, Devindar Walmiki 55); HUTN 3 (G. Saravana Kumar 5, Veera Thamizhan 26 & 33) bt PSB 2 (Jaskaran Singh 4, Gaganpreet Singh 41).
 

Pool 'B': PNB 3 (Shamsher Singh 41 & 55, Sanjay 69) bt Army XI  0