Murugappa Gold Cup: Bengaluru reaches semis despite HUTN win

The star of the day was HUTN's goalkeeper Arun Prasadh, who saved at least a half a dozen goals; each save stood out for sharp instinct and wonderful anticipation.

Gnanavel celebrates HUTN's victory with goalkeeper Arun Prasadh.   -  M. VEDHAN

Hockey Unit of Tamil Nadu (HUTN) scored a pyrrhic 1-0 victory over Bengaluru HA in a Pool 'A' match of the 91st MCC-Murugappa Gold Cup All-India hockey tournament here on Thursday. 

Gnanavel's penalty stroke, with seconds remaining for half-time, turned out to be the winner. Earlier, in a Pool 'B' contest, ONGC defeated Central Secretariat 2-0, to finish second in its Pool, behind Punjab National Bank (PNB).

Possessing a goal difference of minus 5 (before the match) to Bengaluru's 0, HUTN needed to win (to reach the last four) over its Southern neighbour by a margin of six goals.

Though it was too much to ask for, HUTN salvaged some pride with a face-saving performance. It played deep, negating seven penalty corner strikes (out of total of eight) by the former India star V. R. Raghunath. The star of the day was HUTN's goalkeeper Arun Prasadh, who saved at least a half a dozen goals; each save stood out for sharp instinct and wonderful anticipation.

Bengaluru was on the offensive from the first minute, with Jenjen Singh providing the impetus. Bengaluru can consider itself unlucky as it completely dominated the proceedings, barring stray attacks by the host.

Of the many saves by Arun, what he did to prevent Raghunath's penalty strike in the 36th minute was perhaps the best. A withering grounder by the drag flick specialist saw Arun stretching his right leg on time to put the ball away.
He produced a couple of similar saves: a dangerous cross from the right by Shankar Patil was sticked away. Then with nine minutes for the booter, he came up with another save to put away a firm push by Vikas Sharma.

Bengaluru might have reached the semifinals, but the 28-year-old TN 'keeper, playing only in his second Murugappa tournament, stole the limelight from far more illustrious players on the opposition. It was not that Arun played well only today. Against Punjab & Sind Bank on Wednesday, he was at his best saving sure-shot goals towards the hooter, ensuring HUTN won the match 3-2.

Friday is a rest day.


Results:


Pool 'A: HUTN 1 (Gnanavel 35) bt Bengaluru HA 0; Pool 'B': ONGC 2 (Machaiah 12, Nilam Xess 61) bt Central Secretariat 0; .

Points table (after the league matches):

 

Semifinal line-up (Saturday): Railways vs ONGC; Punjab National Bank vs Bengaluru HA.