Murugappa Gold Cup Hockey: Wins for Indian Navy, Railways on opening day

Indian Navy beat Chennai Hockey Association 3-2 in the opening match, while Indian Railways defeated Mumbai Hockey Association 2-1 in the Murugappa Gold Cup hockey tournament.

Kuldeep Singh scores India Navy's third goal against Chennai Hockey Association on Thursday in MRC stadium, Chennai.   -  R. Ragu

On a balmy evening at the Mayor Radhakrishnan Stadium here on Thursday, the matches didn’t rise to the expected levels, with Indian Railways and Indian Navy scripting dour wins over their opponents in the MCC-Murugappa Gold Cup 92nd All-India hockey tournament.  

Railways, champion in 2016, played well below its best in beating Mumbai Hockey Association (MHA) 2-1 in a Group A contest while in a battle of debutants earlier, Indian Navy beat Chennai Hockey Association (CHA) 3-1 in Group B.

As was expected, Railways started aggressively by making quick inroads into the Mumbai territory, which was struggling to keep the rivals’ forward-line at bay. Only that the domination lasted for a short period.  

The first goal was a clear example of the former champion’s avowed intention. Pardeep Singh’s stinging pass from the right saw the goalkeeper stretch his pad and the resultant rebound witnessed Kunwar Dilraj Singh unleash a stinging shot straight into the roof.

Read: Murugappa Gold Cup: ONGC to begin title defence against Central Secretariat

Inexplicably, Railways slowed down though its defense did not allow any room for MHA. A 1-0 lead in the first session looked less for Railways.  

MHA, which didn’t appear threatening till then, shocked Railways with a stunning equaliser. With two defenders literally covering him and the Railways’ keeper Mujahid Khan covering the angle, Victo Singh unleashed a backhander from the left that beat Mujahid all ends up.  

Railways controlled the show pretty much and it scored the winner through Ajmer Singh. Nilakanta Sharma's drive on- the-run from the edge of the circle was deflected well by Ajmer.   

In the opening match, CHA impressed in patches and played better in the first half despite scoring both its goals in the second.  Trailing 1-0, Veera Thamizhan struck with a brilliant backhander. Navy made it 3-1 in pretty quick time, and the last goal by Shyam Kumar failed to make any impact.  

The results:

A: Indian Railways 2 (Kunwar Dilraj Singh 15, Ajmer Singh 62) bt MHA 1 (Victo Singh 41).  

B: Indian Navy 3 (Rajat Sharma 28, Rana Pratap 56, Kuldeep Singh 63) bt CHA 2 (Veera Thamizhan 44, Shyam Kumar 68).