Murugappa Gold Cup: ONGC overwhelms Army XI

Indian Railways continues its majestic march; PNB defeats Central Secretariat.

Punjab National Bank and Central Secretariat in action at the MCC-Murugappa Gold Cup on Saturday.   -  S. R. Raghunathan

ONGC delivered a top-notch performance to blank Army XI 5-0 in a Pool 'B' match of the 91st MCC-Murugappa Gold Cup All-India hockey tournament here on Saturday. Later, defending champion Indian Railways dished out an attacking brand of hockey to put it across Punjab & Sind Bank (PSB) 3-1 in a Pool 'A' contest.

Both the teams registered their second successive win in as many matches. Earlier, Shamsher Singh’s brace enabled Punjab National Bank to defeat Central Secretariat 4-1 in a Pool ‘B’ tie. While Railways proved to be a class act in its precise demolition of PSB, ONGC was aggression personified throughout in its annihilation of Army XI.

It was Army which had the first shot at the goal when Binay Bengara’s shot richocheted after hitting the left post early in the first half. Thereafter, it hardly came up with a similar effort even though it had more chances. At half-time, ONGC led 1-0 through a clean strike by penalty corner specialist Diwakar Ram.

Demolition

Being a fitter team, it was presumed that Army would come back stronger in the second half. It didn’t and ONGC just ran all over its opponent, a champion here in 2009. Mithilesh’s backhander from the top of the circle didn’t give much time for Arpit Choudhary as the ball sailed through his body. ONGC rubbed more salt in Army’s wound when Ajay Yadav’s fierce shot rebounded off the goalkeeper’s pads for Sumit Kumar to push it home.

It appeared as if Army had given up at this stage as ONGC turn-over was quick and decisive. Jagwant Singh’s cross from the right saw Mithilesh deflect it home. Diwakar completed the agony with a powerful strike off a penalty corner.

There was little to choose between Railways and PSB in the first session as both tried hard to get the opening. Though Karan Pal Singh’s penalty corner strike found the top of the roof, PSB did have its share of chances to get even.

Railways dominated the second session with quick raids from both flanks. Its effort bore fruit when Ajmer Singh sent a through ball for Pardeep Singh to have enough time and the angle to place it home. PSB reduced the margin through Arvinder Singh who converted off a penalty corner. Ajmer Singh settled the issue for Railways with a tap-in after combining well with Malak Singh.

The results

Pool 'A': Indian Railways 3 (Karan Pal Singh 21, Pardeep Singh 60, Ajmer Singh 70) bt Punjab & Sind Bank 1 (Arvinder Singh 67);

Pool 'B': ONGC 5 (Diwakar Ram 32 & 70, Mithilesh 53 & 63, Sumit Kumar 54) bt Army XI 0; PNB 4 (Hardeep Singh 16, Gagandeep Singh 31, Shamsher Singh 37 & 53) bt Central Secretariat 1 (Joshua Vessoakar 14).