Murugappa Cup: BPCL cements its place in last four

Joining BPCL (two wins from two matches) from Pool A will be defending champion Indian Oil Corporation, which has six points.

In the other Pool A match, Hockey Unit of Tamil Nadu scored a 3-2 victory over Mumbai HA.   -  M. Vedhan

BPCL cemented its place in the semifinals in style with a 3-0 victory over Air India in a Pool A tie of the 90th All India MCC Murugappa Gold Cup hockey tournament here on Monday.

Joining BPCL (two wins from two matches) from Pool A will be defending champion Indian Oil Corporation, which has six points.

The BPCL-Air India match, in a way, did not do justice to the scoreline as Air India called the shots in the second session after a fast-paced first half. Though Air India had more of the ball possession, it was BPCL which found the back of the net twice.

Speed is BPCL’s forte and it made full use of its strength. Lightning quick counter-attacks put a relatively slower Air India on the back-foot. S.V. Sunil pushed one from close range after receiving a pass from Gurpreet Singh to open the account for BPCL. He made it 2-0 with a firm push and there was no stopping BPCL from there on as it kept threatening Air India on counter-attacks.

The second session, surprisingly, didn’t have the tempo and pace of the first. BPCL took time to settle into a rhythm and looked content to defend while Air India with Arjun Halappa at the helm in the midfield made things happen with diligent passes.

In the last fifteen or so minutes, Air India had four penalty corners, but failed miserably in all of them. It used former International PC specialist Len Aiyappa for the last two, but the ploy misfired. The third goal for BPCL was scored in a flash after Air India flunked its fourth penalty corner with BPCL's Sher Singh closing out the match with a flick.

Hockey Unit of Tamil Nadu's 3-2 victory margin over Mumbai HA in the other Pool A contest could have been so much more as the host failed to convert nearly half-a-dozen chances that it so skilfully conceived.

With hardly 10 minutes into the match, TN forward Hassan Basha had only the goalkeeper Sudhir Didixt to tackle, but he chose to dribble only to lose the plot later. A nice 1-2 from Joshua Bendici Wesley and Veera Thamizhan saw the latter’s deflection legged away the ‘keeper Sudhir Didxit.

The host opened its account through a penalty corner after Aakib Rahim, who was unable to trap a long and high ball unintentionally hit Dhamu’s head. Judson Gabriel George’s push off the same penalty corner rebounded after coming in contact with the ‘keeper and Thamizhan was quick to pounce on it.

Spurned into action, Mumbai earned three penalty corners in quick succession and converted off the third with Jugraj Singh scoring the equaliser with a perfectly placed grounder.

Basha, once again, had a one-on-one encounter with the ‘keeper, but failed to convert. Mumbai didn’t waste much time when it got a penalty corner with Jugraj’s drag flick sounding the boards.

Basha, however, made amends with a wonderful forehander off a rebound into the top of the roof to make it 2-2, and the host heaved a sigh of relief after Judson fired a forehander from the top of the circle after a wonderful counter-attack from right saw the ball rolling straight to the forward.

Tamil Nadu with four points from three matches and Mumbai with zero points from three are out of contention for a spot in the semifinals.


Pool A: BPCL 3 (S.V. Sunil 29 & 24, Sher Singh 66) bt Air India 0; HUT 3 (Veera Thamizhan 17, Hassan Basha 61, Judson Gabriel George 65) bt Mumbai HA 2 (Jugraj Singh 26 & 41).