The tag line on an imposing hoarding put up by their sponsors asks people to “Get the Lion’s protection”, but on Monday, the Bangalore Lions themselves got devored by the Shers (tigers) from Jalandhar in a one-sided match of the Premier Hockey League in Chennai on Monday.
The Shers, who had struggled to a victory against Chandigarh Dynamos and lost to Maratha Warriors in extra-time, were in rampant form at the Mayor Radhakrishnan Stadium on Monday and displayed superb attacking hockey that left their rivals mesmerized.
The clash between the Bangalore Lions, the defending champions, and Sher-E-Jalandhar produced eight goals, the biggest victory margin in the current PHL in which teams have struggled to score one goal in regulation time.
Former India striker Gagan Ajit Singh, who was declared Lion of the Day, looked his mercurial best, weaving through the defence, combining superbly with Tejbir Singh, Don Prinse and Jarnail Singh to repeatedly break open the Lions’ defence as he scored three superb goals.
Jarnail struck two goals while Prins and Yudhvir Singh contributed one goal each to the tally. Sabu Varkey scored the lone consolation for Bangalore lions.
The Jalandhar team killed off the contest in the first half itself, jumping to a 4-0 lead, scoring twice in each quarter. The shell-shocked Bangalore Lions had nothing but their defence to blame as they left a lot of gaps and allowed the Shers to run riot in their half.
Left-half Gurpreet Singh proved the weak link in the Bangalore team’s defence while Ajay Kumar Saroha and Len Aiyappa too were not at their solid best. Coach Ramesh Parmeshwaran brought in a half-fit Ignace Tirkey to get the midfield functioning but even he could not spark a revival as the Shers continued to launch swift counterattacks to leave the Bangalore defence gasping.
Earlier, the PHL saw its first one-on-one shootout as Maratha Warriors prevailed over a depleted Chandigarh Dynamos, playing without five first-choice players including Jaswinder Singh, Inderjit Singh Chadha and SS Gill, succumbed 5-4 in sudden death tie-breaker after a valiant fight.
Sandeep Antil scored the winning ‘stroke’ to resolve the deadlock at 3-3 in the tiebreak after the two teams had tied 1-1 at the end of regulation time.
Maratha Warriors 1 (Bharat Singh 23rd min) bt Chandigarh Dynamos 1 (Ravipal Singh 55th min) 5-4 via sudden death shoot-out.
Sher-E-Jalandhar 7 (Gagan Ajit Singh 8th min, 22nd min, 25th min; Jarnail Singh 10th min, 48th min; Don Prins 45th min; Yudhvir Singh 58th min) bt Bangalore lions 1 (Sabu Varkey 44th min).