PNB XI to clash with ONGC in Nehru hockey final

November 24th, 2011 - 8:45 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Nov 24 (IANS) Punjab National Bank (PNB XI) outclassed Air India 4-2 to make their maiden final of the ONGC Nehru Senior hockey tournament.

PNB XI will take on ONGC, who proved too good for Bharat Petroleum (BP) and defeated them with an identical scoreline. ONGC’s Gurwinder Singh Chandi scored a hat-trick with his deft touches while Diwakar Ram converted a penalty corner. Hari Prasad and Jarnail struck for Bharat Petroleum.

PNB XI opened their scoring through Damandeep Singh, who made the most of a loose ball, in the very first minute before Air India’s Lalit Upadhaya levelled from the top of the circle through a counter-attacking move in the 10th minute.

The Punjab team got back the lead with Jatinder converting a penalty corner in the 21st minute, but four minutes later Air India snatched back the advantage with Rahul Shilpkar’s penalty corner strike.

Some sloppy defending helped Naveen give PNB the edge two minutes before the half-time.

PNB looked the better team in the second half. Ranjit Singh, who plays for the junior national team, was impressive with his run-ins down the left flank. He would skilfully dribble past defenders to create openings. Ranjit scored a beautiful solo, dodging a few defenders and putting it past veteran goalkeeper Adrian D’Souza.

Air India made some moves but never looked dangerous. They lost an opportunity when Joga Singh hit the post in a goalmouth melee. PNB tightened the defence and did not allow Air India any clear chance of striking back.

PNB coach N.Saini was all praise for Ranjit. “He is a talented player and he trains in the PNB academy. There were four junior boys from the academy and they all played well. We resorted to man-to-man marking after getting the 4-2 lead and it worked for us.”

“We have played well in the tournament and we are happy to reach the final for the first time,” he said.

In the second semi-final, Chandi stole the show and took the game away from Bharat Petroleum.

His first strike came in the 24th minute, courtesy a one-two with Akashdeep Singh. The duo prised open the BP defence before Chandi flicked the ball into the goal.

The second was a reverse hit by Chandi from the top of the circle in the second half (36th minute). The third (40th min) was yet again a well-synchronised move on the run by Sandeep Antil and Pramod, whose pass saw Chandi tapping the ball past goalkeeper Swinder Singh.

ONGC looked better organised in the second half and made several moves. BP narrowed down the margin when Hari Prasad scored through a pass from Jarnail.

Diwakar Ram converted a penalty corner to make it 3-1 for ONGC.

BP stepped up the attack, but goalkeeper Kamaldeep Singh made some good saves. Jarnail found the range in the 67th minute after William Xalxo did the spade work. BP fizzled out in the last few minutes and ONGC comfortably reached home.

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