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Bankmen get cross-checked

This edition of the Nehru Hockey tournament appears to be jinxed for the big teams, writes Uthra Ganesan

india Updated: Nov 23, 2006 12:35 IST

This edition of the Nehru Hockey tournament appears to be jinxed for the big teams. After Indian Airlines, it was the turn of favourites Punjab and Sind Bank (PSB) to be knocked out by Bharat Petroleum (BPCL) in the quarterfinals on Wednesday .

Despite the absence of their top strikers — Tushar Khandekar and Hari Prasad who are on national duty – BPCL kept up the tempo and repeatedly forced PSB on the backfoot. But it were the latter, coming into the tournament with two consecutive titles, Surjit Memorial and the National Championship, who took lead in the 13th minute, and BPCL were entirely to blame.

BPCL earned their first penalty-corner in the 12th minute but failed to convert. However, even as the BPCL players were arguing with umpire VB Singh for another PC, PSB went into attack through Davinder Singh. He passed to Rajwinder Singh, who shot into an empty goal.

The setback, instead of stunning BPCL, made them push harder. A well-placed cross from the right by Sarabjit Singh found Amar Aiyamma in front of the goal but Teja Singh under the bar was brilliant.

In fact, if it were not for the PSB goalkeeper's sterling performance, BPCL's margin of victory would have been much higher. They finally levelled scores in the 21st minute when Sabu Varkey shot straight at the keeper's pads but Sarabjit was at hand to deflect the ball in.

For BPCL, Jarnail Singh was impressive with his pacy runs down the left and his ability to dodge past the burly PSB defenders. He, along with Sabu in the midfield, made sure the PSB defence was kept busy .

The second half was more sedate but an unmarked Pundalik Bellary netted the winner when he shot from the top of the striking circle with only the 'keeper to beat.

In the day's other match, Namdhari XI beat Karnataka XI 3-1. Gurpreet Singh scored a brace and Anmolak Singh struck once for the Namdharis, while Dinesh scored for Karnataka.

Thursday's matches: PP vs PNB (1 pm), IOC vs BSF (3 pm).

First Published: Nov 23, 2006 12:35 IST