Contrasting weather conditions played a part in deciding two closely-contested matches at the Mayor Radhakrishnan Stadium on Friday as Railways Sports Promotion Board (RSPB) and Indian Air Force (IAF) recorded wins in the 2019 Murugappa Gold Cup hockey tournament.
Hockey Unit of Tamil Nadu, looking for its first win, took on RSPB in the first match as the afternoon sun created dry patches on the turf restricting the ball movement.
S. Mareeswaran opened the scoring for TN in the 15th minute after Joshva unlocked the RSPB defence with a mazy dribble. However, RSPB equalised in the 17th minute through a dragflick from Parmeet as P.R. Aiyappa’s field goal in the 18th minute gave the visitor a 2-1 lead.
TN found the equaliser in the 24th minute as Joshva finished off a counter attack with a tap-in at the near post. Harsahib Singh’s 33rd minute goal settled the game for Railways as TN lost steam in the fourth quarter.
The host managed to get loud cheers from the local fans, but it was only because TN goalkeeper M. Arun Prasad pulled off a series of acrobatic saves to keep out a fourth goal.
The second match between IAF and Bengaluru Hockey Association (BHA) was interrupted by heavy showers with two minutes to go in the first quarter.
Play resumed after thirty minutes following official inspection, but the sluggish pace after the restart kept the deadlock intact until the final minute of the fourth quarter.
With 50 seconds left on the clock, Sukhdev Singh nodded home from close range after latching on to a rebound from a penalty corner to snatch a 1-0 win for IAF.
In the third match, goals from Ajinkya Jadhav (8’) and Aakib Rahim (34’) put Indian Navy 2-0 ahead before Dharambir Yadav (40’) pulled one back for Central Secretariat.
With just seven seconds remaining, Govind Singh Rawat found the bottom left corner with his dragflick as Central Secretariat secured a 2-2 draw.
Group-A: Indian Air Force 1 (Sukhdev Singh 59') bt Bengaluru Hockey Association 0. Group-B: RSPB 3 (Parmeet 17', P. R. Aiyappa 20', Harsahib Singh 33') bt Tamil Nadu 2 (S. Mareeswaran 15', Joshua 24'); Indian Navy 2 (Ajinkya Jadhav 8', Aakib Rahim 34') drew with Central Secretariat 2 (Dharmambir Yadav 40', Govind Singh Rawat 60')