Aiyappa roars as Lions win

Aiyappa roars as Lions win

Veteran scores hat-trick as Karnataka side registers first victory

Len Aiyappa’s scintillating hat-trick spurred Karnataka Lions to a hard fought 3-2 win, their first, against Chandigarh Comets in their World Series Hockey match in front of a sizable crowd at the KSHA stadium on Tuesday.

HAVINGABALL: Karnataka Lions’ Len Aiyappa (second fromleft) celebrates with team-mates after scoring against Chandigarh Comets during theirWSHmatch onWednesday. DH PHOTO

Aiyappa’s goals came in the 10th, 19th and 26th minutes of the match, while Bharat Chhikara struck for Comets in the 37th and 63rd minutes.

The first quarter saw both the teams using long passes to take the attack to the opposition but failed to break the deadlock. Jarnail Singh and Dhanraj Pillay came up with a couple of good moves on the right but failed to convert the half chances. Aiyappa then came to the party, sounding the board in the tenth minute through a penalty corner much to the delight of the noisy crowd.

Aiyappa increased the lead with another drag-flick in the 19th minute to consolidate the Lions’ position. Comets’ defence struggled to withstand the onslaught with Aiyappa and Arjun Antil on the prowl for the Lions.

Aiyappa’s relentless pursuit met with success again in the 26th minute when he converted his third straight PC to complete the hat-trick.

Bharat Chikkara then pulled things back a bit for the Comets with a fine reverse-hit running in from the right flank in the 37th minute.

The fourth quarter saw Jarnail Singh threaten to score on a couple of occasions only to struggle with his finishing. Comets’ custodian Swinder Singh did a good job under the bar and avoided any further damage.

Chikkara was in no mood to give up as he slammed a powerful short off a short pass from Rehan Butt in the minute to make it 3-2 in the 63rd minute.

Mumbai down Chennai

Playing their third match in four days, a tired and jaded Chennai Cheetahs went down 2-4 to a resurgent Mumbai Marines at the M Radhakrishna stadium in Chennai.

The Cheetahs, who had won both their previous two games in Chandigarh and Delhi, ran out of steam after scoring the opener in the fourth minute through penalty corner specialist Imran Warsi. Mumbai, who led 2-1 at halftime, shrugged off the early reverse and hit back through goals by Devender Walmiki (12th), Anup Anthony (24th), Ajmer Singh (48th) and Bimal Lakra (52nd).

It was Mumbai’s second win in four matches while Chennai tasted their second defeat from four outings.

Playing their first home game, the Cheetahs, who arrived home from Delhi only in the morning, began well when Warsi converted their first penalty corner in the fourth minute, but thereafter, the hosts huffed and puffed in the hot and humid conditions.

In contrast, Mumbai were the fresher side and made the best of the openings to emerge deserving winners.

An avoidable infringement by Warsi, who played the ball after the whistle was blown for a foul inside the Chennai 25-yard area, led to a penalty corner that Walmiki converted for the equaliser.

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