ONGC through to Murugappa hockey semifinals

July 19th, 2010 - 9:09 pm ICT by IANS  

Chennai, July 19 (IANS) Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) became the first team to enter the semifinals of the 86th All-India MCC-Murugappa hockey tournament when they notched up their third consecutive win with a 3-2 decision against Namdhari XI in pool A here Monday.

With nine points from three outings, ONGC confirmed their progress to the knockout stage while Namdhari are virtually out of contention with just one point from three games.

Starring in ONGC’s victory was penalty corner ace Diwakar Ram who came up with two conversions in the 34th and 40th minutes after Bikas Toppo put the team ahead in the 12th.

The Namdhari team, although well-drilled, repeatedly broke down in the striking zone, but troubled their more experienced opponents. Harpreet Singh converted a 23rd minute penalty corner and in the 62nd, Gurbhej Singh did likewise in the 62nd to keep Namdhari in the hunt.

However, ONGC managed to keep possession in the dying stages to run out winners.

Earlier, veteran Deepak Thakur rolled back the years with three goals as Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOC) slammed Punjab National Bank (PNB) 6-3 for their second win in pool B.

Penalty corner specialist Ramachandra Raghunath came good with a conversion and fellow-India star Prabhjot Singh contributed two goals for IOCL. PNB marked their presence late in the game with a three-goal strike through Satpal Singh (2) and Jatinder Saroha.

IOC, winners of the Chief Minister’s Cup in Bangalore recently, have won both their matches while PNB suffered their first reverse in two outings.

Meanwhile, the Indian Railways, courtesy a last minute equaliser, drew 4-4 with Army XI who today were a composed lot but without the suspended Sunil Ekka. The former India player was thrown out of the tournament after he struck umpire Surya Prakash on the head Sunday night during the game against ONGC, who eventually won 4-1.

The pool A match swung from one end to the other, as did the fortunes. Army struck first in the 22nd minute through veteran Ignace Tirkey, but the Railways hit back with a double strike in the 30th and 39th minutes through Innocent Kullu and Chinglen Sana.

The last quarter witnessed hectic action as Army scored thrice in a 10-minute spell with Reniel Singh (57th, 67th) and Jerome Kujur (61st) for a 4-3 lead. With less than a minute left for the final hooter, Chenappa found the boards for Railways.

The draw put both Army and Indian Railways on par with four points after three and two matches respectively.

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