Sher-e-Punjab justified their top billing by coming from a goal down to trounce Pune Strykers 5-2 to lift the inaugural World Series Hockey crown in front of a packed gathering at the MHA-Mahindra Stadium in Mumbai on Monday night.
Stunned by an early field goal scored from what looked to be an impossible angle by Strykers Tyron Pereira, Sher-e-Punjab players fought back in brilliant style through their experienced campaigners and ex-internationals Deepak Thakur and Prabhjot Singh, the captain who scored twice.
The Punjab goal scorers, who soaked up the pressure of their younger and speedier rivals very well in the first half and led 2-1, were VS Vinaya (6th minute), Thakur (33rd), Prabhjot (47th and 66th) and Harpreet Singh (57th).
Simrandeep Randhawa notched a consolation penalty corner goal for the losing team in the last minute of the summit clash to reduce the margin of defeat.
While the first half saw an evenly contested game, the Punjab team totally took control of the proceedings in the latter half to emerge convincing winners of the first edition of the eight-team tournament that began on February 29.
The winners received Rs 4 crore and the runners-up Rs 2 crore. The losing semi-finalists Chandigarh Comets and Karnataka Lions got Rs one crore each.
Strykes who had come back from the brink of defeat in the semi-final against Chandigarh Comets on Sunday night, started the match in brilliant fashion by making the first foray deep into the rival half and got a splendid goal in the process.
Tyron Pereira scooped over all the defenders and custodian Sukhjit Singh into the goal from a very acute angle on the right with no one expecting such a shot to give the Strykers the early lead in the 4th minute.
However, the advantage for Pune was shortlived as the Punjab outfit restored parity in the very next minute from their first penalty corner award taken in an indirect manner with VS Vinaya finding the mark to the left of a flummoxed Strykers goalie Gurpreet Singh Guri.