Raghunath's hat-trick powers IOCL

Khandkar strikes a brace as defending champions BPCL score facile 4-0 win over MEG

BPCL’s Jarnail Singh (right) tries to move past MEG’s AU Kariappa during their State Super Division hockey league clash at the KSHA stadium on Tuesday. DH Photo

Raghunath, who slammed three goals in his side’s nervy 6-5 win over MEG on Monday, hammered in three goals once again through his vicious drag flicks while Roshan Minz and Gagandeep Sr struck a goal apiece as title favourites IOCL eased past promoted MLI at the KSHA stadium.

IOCL, who blew hot and cold against MEG in their opener on Monday, did not unleash their ‘A’ game but produced a collective display.

They attacked well, controlled play for the better part and defended deep, showing no signs of complacency despite playing a side who qualified for the main phase at the last minute after Canara Bank had pulled out.

The only area concern was the attack, Minz and Gagandeep Jr once again putting up an inconsistent display. However, the midfield quartet of Inderjit Singh, Vickramkanth, Hamza Mujtaba and Arjun Antil combined well with brilliant passing, runs down the flank and control.

But, the star for IOCL without a shadow of doubt was Raghunath. The central defender stood rock solid against some nice forays by MLI and when called upon for penalty corners, he didn’t disappoint one bit. His power and precision were just too hot for MLI, who stood as mere spectators to his thunderous hits. After a cautious opening, IOCL went ahead through Raghunath in the 15th minute before Minz made it 2-0 a minute into the second half.

Vikas Sharma collected a long pass from just outside the striking circle and dribbled past two defenders before smashing it. MLI Goalkeeper Palaksha made a fine a save but the rebound fell directly to Minz, who made no mistake in firing it into the goal. MLI then missed two fine chances to reduce the lead and paid heavy price for it when Raghunath struck in the 58th and 61st minutes to hand IOCL a commanding 4-0 lead. Gagandeep Sr then wrapped up a fine day in the office for IOCL, scoring from the final penalty corner of the match.

Results: IOCL: 5 (VR Raghunath 15th, 58th, 61st, Roshan Minz 35th, Gagandeep Sr 64th) bt MLI: 0; BPCL: 4 (Tushar Khandkar 43rd, 55th, Jarnail Singh 61st, Karamjit Singh 67th) bt MEG: 1 (Pruthvi Shetty 63rd); Fortis: 4 (Diwakar Ram 13th, 59th, Gurvinder Singh 30th, Mandeep Antil 54th) bt Army Green: 2 (Lavpreet Singh 6th, Suresh Kumar 57th).

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