There is some unknown bond that binds Dilip Tirkey and a Pakistani goalkeeper into a winning unit. Tirkey and Ahmed Alam helped Hyderabad Sultans win the first edition of the Premier Hockey League in Hyderabad.
In the third edition of the PHL, Dilip and Pakistan goalkeeper Salman Akbar are giving the Orissa Steelers solidity at the back every other team is finding difficult to breach. On Thursday, the Steelers rode on their defensive might and ability to launch quick counterattacks to muzzle Bangalore Lions 3-0.
Attacks by forwards Damandeep Singh, Bruno Hadrian, Sunil Ekka and Roshan Minz got good support from midfielders Adnan Zakir and Sunil Yadav, who was later adjudged Lion of the Match.
Dutchman Tjeerd Steller, Pakistani Adnan Zakir and Damandeep Singh were the scorers, helping Steelers claim three full points and join Sher-E-Jalandhar at the top of the table with 11 points from five games. The Lions have eight points.
A Damandeep pass to an unmarked Steller opened the Orissa team’s account. The Lions came back strongly early in the second half and created a number of chances. But Akbar was solid under the bar, rushing out time and again to thwart their chances.
The Lions conceded midfield advantage and committed some mistakes and paid the price. The Lions got a penalty corner in the last seconds but failed to reduce the margin.
Orissa Steelers 3
Bangalore Lions 0