ONGC wins Murugappa Gold Cup

Machaiah scores a brace with two opportunistic goals.

The winning ONGC team.   -  B. Jothi Ramalingam

A seasoned ONGC put all its experience to fruitful effect by subduing Bengaluru HA 4-2 in the final of the 91st MCC-Murugappa Gold Cup all-India hockey tournament here on Sunday.

Both teams played their hearts out in an entertaining contest. The major reason for ONGC’s triumph was its excellent defensive organisation. Most of its counter-attacks were measured, and during turnovers, the defence seldom allowed Jenjen Singh, Rajkumar Pal or any of Bengaluru’s forwards any leeway. This was especially so in the second session.

Drag flick specialist Diwakar Ram, who had put up a sterling show throughout the tournament was spot on in the final too.

There was little to choose between the two teams in the first half. For every ONGC attack, Bengaluru reacted equally well. No wonder at half-time, the teams shared four goals each.

Coming back after the break, ONGC changed its tactics. On counters, it didn’t go all out as it strengthened its defence, and the ploy worked.

Sumit Kumar ran in from the right, dodging past two defenders to close in on the goal. But nearing the post he passed it to Machaiah, who moved lightning quick to slot it home.

Bengaluru too raised the pace, but ONGC’s defence was up to the task.

Mandeep Antil, who was the anchor for most of the moves in the last 20 minutes, finally made an assist. His pass from the right found Machaiah, who deftly pushed it home.

International Raghunath, a penalty corner specialist, was stopped in his tracks. Off the two corners Bengaluru had, one was a flop, the other though well-struck by Raghunath, was legged away by goalkeeper Simranjeet Singh.

A delighted coach

ONGC’s coach Sandeep Sangwan was delighted with the win, having last coached the side to a trophy seven years back in 2010.

“It feels really good. I am proud of my boys. If I have to pick one player, it has to be goalkeeper Simranjeet Singh. After we conceded two goals I changed our first choice ‘keeper Dinesh Ekka, who was not feeling well. The young Simranjeet stood up to the pressure,” said Sandeep.

ONGC went home richer by ₹5 lakh while Bengaluru had to be content with ₹2.5 lakh.

A. Vellaiyan, chairman, Murugappa Group, gave away the prizes.

The result (final): ONGC 4 (Diwakar Ram 3, Mandeep Antil 28, Machaiah 52 & 70) bt Bengaluru HA 2 (Rajkumar Pal 5, Bijju Yirkal 13). Man of the match: Rajkumar Pal.