Air India clinch Bengaluru Cup

Air India clinch Bengaluru Cup

Air India men exacted revenge over Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOCL), beating them 3-1 in the final of the second edition of the Bengaluru Cup hockey tournament here at the Hockey Stadium on Monday.

Air India, who lost in last year’s final to IOCL, scored through Vikram Pillay (14th minute), Birendra Lakra (16th) and Joga Singh (24th). Sunil Yadav (62nd) struck a late consolation goal for IOCL.

IOCL showed no signs of hurting from Sunday’s 1-2 loss to Air India and began the game in a frenetic and purposeful manner. Former India international Prabhjot Singh linked up well with Yuvraj Walmiki and Affan Yousef to create numerous opportunites and a barrage of shots at the Air India goal.

Adrian D’souza, who won the goalkeeper of the tournament award, kept his side in the game with his quick reflexes and awareness.

The best chance in the opening few minutes fell to Prabhjot, whose powerful reverse-hit from close range was instinctively deflected wide by Adrian.

The pace of the game settled down by the 10th minute, but four minutes later Air India opened the scoring through Pillay.

Birendra Lakra was pushed to the right hand byline by defender Vikram Kanth but his slap-shot saw the ball find its way through a melee of players and fall to Pillay, who tapped in unopposed.

Buoyed by the opening goal, the Aircraftmen continued to push and found another in the 16th minute, with Lakra finishing the move this time around.

After dribbling his way into the striking area, Joga Singh pulled IOCL custodian Devesh Chauhan off his line and lifted the ball to find an unmarked Lakra, who rolled the ball into an empty net.

With the IOCL defence in absolute shambles, Dhanraj Pillay-coached Air India grabbed a third in the 24th minute as Pawan Kumar set up Joga.

Chauhan was drawn off his line too easily in a error in judgement, and Pawan squared the ball to Joga, who sounded the board with a ferocious hit.

With a 3-0 deficit to overcome, IOCL did up their game but their prowess from penalty corners was found wanting as they wasted three penalty corners in the first half.
From the restart, IOCL looked to be playing with precision rather than power but Air India looked determined and played with composure in defence.

In the 41st minute, Walmiki’s crack from a penalty corner was cleared off the goal line by Pillay, this being the closest IOCL had come.

The IOCL breakthrough came in the 62nd as Sunil Yadav struck a low flick from a penalty corner to eventually beat Adrian.

Haryana emerge champs
Earlier, Haryana edged defending champions Madhya Pradesh Academy in a penalty shootout.

After a drab scoreless draw in regulation time, Haryana won the shootout 2-1 to clinch the trophy.

DH News Service
Results (all finals): Men: Air India: 3 (Vikram Pillay 14th, Birendra Lakra 16th, Joga Singh 24th) bt IOCL: 1 (Sunil Yadav 62nd).

Women: Haryana: 2 bt MP Academy: 1 via penalties. FT: 0-0.
Individual awards: Men: Best goalkeeper: Adrian D’souza (Air India); Best defender: AB Cheeyana (Air India); Best midfielder: Sonu Ponnanna (Karnataka); Best forward: Binay Bengara (Army XI); Best upcoming player: MD Raheel (Karnataka).

Women: Best goalkeeper: Sukmani Virk (Haryana); Best defender: Nisha (Haryana); Best midfielder: Manmeet Kaur (MP Academy); Best forward: Reena Khokhar (MP Academy); Best player: PP Rashmi (Karnataka).

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