The 19th Lal Bahadur Shastri hockey tournament witnessed one of the most exciting and star-packed game on Saturday, but sadly, still failed to attract much crowds. Indian Oil came back from a three-goal deficit to beat Air India 4-3 in their group league match here on Saturday.
The field constituted of past Olympians and India internationals with Air India being coached by National coach Harinder Singh. Former India captain Dhanaj Pillay also joined the ranks of Arjun Halappa and Sandeep Singh for Air India to add steel to the all- star squad.
The Air India team got off to a promising start, with the players moving swiftly and looking more and more threatening to score. They eventually got the lead in the 14th minute , with Sandeep Singh blasting home from their second penalty corner. Air India then doubled the advantage in the 17th minute with Sandeep again slotting the ball in from their very next penalty corner.
The first half saw Air India dominate from the outset, with Dhanraj Pillay showing his experience and influencing the proceedings. He along with Halappa tormented the Indian Oil goal but failed to add to Air India’s tally.
In the beginning of the second half, Pillay made one of his classic runs in the Indian Oil box and neatly placed the ball in the net to make it 3-0 in the 40th minute.
After the third goal, Air India’s complacency cost them dearly as Indian Oil sensed an opening to get on the scoreboard in the 45th minute, when Bharat Chhikara tapped the ball in an empty goal. Within minutes Indian Oil scored their second goal as Prabhjot Singh combined well with skipper Deepak Thakur to make the scoreline 3-2 in the 48th minute.
Rajpal then scored the equaliser in the 52nd minute as Indian Oil started completely outplaying Air India, whose defence was in tatters. Skipper Thakur then completed an incredible comeback in the 54th minute as he tapped the ball in from a long corner.
Earlier in the day, ONGC guaranteed themselves a spot in the semifinals as they beat South Central Railways 3-2.