Indian Navy edged out Hockey Unit of Tamil Nadu 3-2 in the opening match of the Murugappa Gold Cup hockey tournament at the Mayor Radhakrishnan Stadium, Chennai on Thursday. In the second match of the day, Bengaluru Hockey Association (BHA) beat Punjab National Bank (PNB) 4-2.

In the first match of 93th edition of the tournament, Tamil Nadu let Navy have the ball in the opening exchanges and looked to attack the visitor on the counter. This worked in the host’s favour as Selva Raj opened the scoring in the 13th minute with a finish from a tight angle. However, the lead lasted two minutes as Navy hit back through Aakib Rahim’s strike in the final minute of the first quarter.

Navy took the lead in the 18th minute when Sunny Malik and Kuldeep executed a penalty corner variation which the latter converted from the edge of the circle. Navy won two more penalty corners, as it looked like scoring another goal. However, it was TN which snatched the equaliser in the 38th minute through Joshva. The forward cut inside the on the edge of the circle and unleashed a powerful reverse hit to beat the Navy goalkeeper.

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Navy relied on penalty corners and in the 43rd minute, Palangappa’s dragflick found the right top corner to make it 3-2 for the visitor. TN went all out in the final quarter, but was unable to find the net.

Navy captain Jugraj Singh put in a vital block in the dying minutes of the match to deny TN and win the match for Navy.

Prithvi Raj scores a brace 

Later in the day, Punjab National Bank(PNB), returning to the tournament after two years, opened the scoring in the 19th minute against Bengaluru Hockey Association (BHA) through Sumit Toppo. Sukhjeet Singh stole the ball from the half-line and put Toppo through to the goal to give PNB an early lead.

Looking for goals, PNB went on the offensive in the second quarter but left spaces at the back which allowed BHA to equalise. In the 29th minute, PNB goal keeper Jasbir Singh’s clearance of a low cross fell to Harish Mutagar inside the circle and the forward finished from close range to make it 1-1.

PNB snatched back the lead in the 40th minute when Lovepreet Singh sounded the boards with a powerful dragflick from a penalty corner. BHA replied through G.N. Prithvi Raj’s 45th-minute stunner as the dragflicker found the roof of the net from a PC.

BHA went ahead in the 49th minute when Prithvi Raj latched on to a rebound from PNB goalkeeper and finished with a tap-in. Bengaluru made it 4-2 in the 59th minute after Abharan Sudev linked up with Mohammed Naeemuddin to finish past the PNB’s goalkeeper.