Murugappa Gold Cup hockey: Army, IOCL bag full points

July 16th, 2010 - 8:58 pm ICT by IANS  

Chennai, July 16 (IANS) Defending champions Army XI had to stretch every sinew before posting a 4-2 win against Namdhari XI in their opening pool A fixture of the 86th All-India MCC-Murugappa Gold Cup hockey tournament here Friday.

Later, Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOCL) came through 4-0 against local league champions Southern Railway to begin their pool B campaign on a winning note with goals by Ramachandra Raghunath (8th, 62nd), Deepak Thakur (41st) and Inderjeet Chadha (56th).

Namdhari certainly made Army XI, runners-up to IOCL in the CM’s Cup in Bangalore recently, work hard for the victory that was in suspense until the very end.

The teams went into the break level at 2-2 as penalty corner specialst Harpreet Singh scored twice (3rd, 32nd) for Namdhari, including a penalty stroke conversion while Army XI replied through Reniel Singh (9th) and Sunil Ekka (28th).

On change of ends, Elizaer Lakra made it 3-2 for Army from open play in the 41st minute before SV Sunil struck the insurance goal (67th) even as Namdhari created and missed scoring chances.

Meanwhile, IOCL were rarely in trouble against Southern Railway whose line-up included several College students and obviously inexperienced at this level.

It was a rather disappointing encounter with IOCL, despite a profusion of India players, were rather below par while Southern Railway were barely visible in the attack as they spent more time defending.

IOCL were off to a good start when penalty corner specialist Raghunath, trying to work his way back into India squad, converted in the sixth minute, but failed with four other attempts, a couple of which were well blocked by goalkeeper MG Suresh.

Early in the second half, veteran Deepak Thakur found the boards from a goalmouth scramble with the Southern Railways vehemently protesting the goal, citing an infringement on part of the forward.

Incidentally, with 20 minutes on the clock, IOCL replaced their first choice goalkeeper Devesh Chauhan with Baljit Singh who is on a comeback trail after recovering from a serious eye injury a year back, but the substitute custodian was hardly tested.

In the last quarter, IOCL drew further away when Chadha flicked home from a penalty corner after receiving a pass from Prabhjot Singh and then Raghunath drag-flicked another for his second conversion of the match.

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