Raghunath scripts IOCL victory with treble

Hockey: Super Division League

The win powered IOCL to the top of the table with 12 points from four wins. BPCL, who have a game on hand, are second with nine points.

Trailing by a 14th minute strike from drag-flicker Raghunath, SAI, who beat MEG 8-2 in their first match on Sunday, drew level four minutes later through Nikkin Thimmaiah. A counter-attack saw Pradhan Somanna, after a one-two with Poonacha M G, passing it to Nikkin, who scooped the ball over the rushing IOCL goalkeeper Baljit Singh.

SAI could have gone 2-1 up but Baljit was up to the task in saving Pradhan’s drive from close range. SAI had their fancied rivals on their heels in the first half as they dished out a pacy game with tight man to man marking. Luck also came to SAI’s aid, with a Raghunath drag-flick hitting the cross piece.

A reinvigorated IOCL upped the tempo in the second half, finding the target thrice in the span of three minutes, and killing SAI’s hopes of a comeback. Striker Arjun Antil placed home a Hamza Mujtaba pass from the right wing in the 36th minute before Raghunath converted a penalty stroke in the next minute to make it 3-1. IOCL took control of the match a minute later when Roshan Minz beat SAI custodian Jagdeep Dayal with a reverse hit after a long pass from Raghunath.

Just when IOCL was beginning to breathe easy, SAI narrowed the gap as Nikkin slotted home a rebound off Baljit in the 48th. A minute before the hooter Raghunath converted his second penalty stroke of the match to make it 5-2.

In the first match of the day, Namdhari notched their first win, defeating MEG 2-0.

Results: Namdhari XI: 2 (Malak Singh 40th, Gurmeet Singh 53rd) bt MEG: 0; IOCL: 5 (Raghunath 14th PC, 37th PS, 69th PS, Arjun Antil 36th, Roshan Minz 38th) bt SAI: 2 (Nikkin Thimmaiah 18th, 48th).

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