Lions Are PHL Champions

Premier Hockey League

Bangalore Lions 2 Chandigarh Dynamos 1

By Sundeep Misra

Two brilliant strikes by Hari Prasad, in the 2nd and 4th quarter, ensured Bangalore Lions would walk off with the 2006 Premier Hockey League title here at the sector-42 hockey stadium on Wednesday. The winning margin 2-1 for the Lions showed their tenaciousness and a desire that matched their display on the field.

In the last three minutes, Lions were down to ten men as Rehan Butt had been shown the yellow card but Hari Prasad, picked up a ball just before the 25 yard line, raced down the right flank, entered the striking circle and let loose a stunner that beat Dynamos goalkeeper Baljit Singh.

For the Dynamos, Sandeep Singh scored the equalizer in the fourth quarter.

Both the teams were a little slow off the blocks, knowing that small errors could prove to be fatal. Two early penalty corners failed to do the damage as Sandeep Singh misfired. Bharat Chetri had a game for Lions and except for one penalty corner out of six saved the rest.

But what really destroyed the Dynamos was their indiscipline on the field. Frustrated by the tight marking of the Lions midfield and their defenders, Dynamos started engaging the Lions in some robust body play. Inderjit Singh Chadha, Tejbir Singh, Tokhi were seen grappling with the Lions players. It wasn’t surprising that Dynamos Tejbir Singh and Saroha from the Lions were shown the yellow card.

Lions went into the lead in the second quarter off an indirect penalty corner. Len faked a direct flick and passed to Arjun who gave it back to Len but Len’s shot was taken on the pads by Baljit. Dynamos Imran Khan seemed to have the ball in control but Hari Prasad with some neat skills stole and struck a first timer that sped into the Dynamos goal.

Dynamos wasted their third penalty corner, Chetri coming out and taking the shot on the glove. Immediately after that Tokhi should have been shown the yellow card for hurtling into Rehan Butt but got off with a green card.
Even a fourth penalty corner went waste for the Dynamos as frustration increased among the Chandigarh supporters.

Finally, in the 4th quarter, Dynamos earned their fifth penalty corner and Sandeep Singh, though low with his flick succeeded in beating Chetri in the Lions goal.

The sixth penalty corner could have turned the match completely towards Dynamos but Chetri was again in the way of a Sandeep Singh flick.

With around five minutes left in the match, Rehan made a run down the middle and to his anguish saw the ball hit the foot of Sukhbir Singh Gill but the umpire didn’t award a penalty corner to the Lions. In frustration, Rehan threw his stick onto the sidelines and the umpire promptly showed him the yellow card.

Down to ten men, with hardly two minutes on the clock, Hari Prasad’s brilliant 25-yard solo, combined with the stunner that destroyed Dynamos hopes, was enough to start Lions celebrating.

PHL Awards:

Lion of the Day: Hari Prasad
Lion of the Tournament: Deepak Thakur
Fastest goal of the Tournament: Gagan Ajit Singh
Highest scorer: Len Aiyappa
Fairplay Trophy: Hyderabad Sultans
Man of the Tournament: Didar Singh

Team Rankings:

1. Bangalore Lions
2. Chandigarh Dynamos
3. Hyderabad Sultans
4. Sher-e-Jalandhar
5. Maratha Warriors


Dynamos Win - Final Goes Into Decider
Premier Hockey League

Chandigarh Dynamos 3 Bangalore Lions 2

With just 52 seconds left on the clock, Chandigarh Dynamos completed an amazing turn around to beat Bangalore Lions 3-2 in the golden goal period and tie the best of three finals at 1-1.

In the first final played on Monday, Lions had easily won 4-2.

Both the teams would now clash on Wednesday in the decider that would crown the 2006 PHL Champion.

For Chandigarh Dynamos, the scorers were Sandeep Singh, Deepak Thakur and Sandeep Singh.

Bangalore Lions scored through Tushar Khandekar and Rehan Butt.

It was now or never for Dynamos, especially, after they had lost the opener 2-4 to the Lions.

Things looked pretty bad for them when defensive lapses gave the opportunity to Arjun Halappa to relay a perfect down the line to Rehan who held on marginally to create space for Tushar who hammered in from top of the circle. Leading 1-0, Dynamos needed to close gaps and get their midfield working.

Earlier, in the match, Rajpal had just missed out on giving the lead to Dynamos when his hastily taken shot hit the post.

Dynamos equalizer came off their fourth penalty corner. Sandeep Singh, who earlier, had received a warning from umpire Shakeel Qureshi for verbal abuse, focused his thoughts and ensured that a low flick beat the Lions goalkeeper Chetri.

Another defence lapse cost the Dynamos heavily when Sabu Varkey crossed from the right flank but Jugraj couldn’t trap neatly. The ball bounced off Baljit Singh’s pads and an alert Rehan Butt pushed it high into the net.

Leading 2-1, Dynamos hopes were sinking. Errors were still coming in from the midfield. Yet, they pulled up their socks and it took a magical moment from Tejbir Singh to get the equalizer. Tejbir, virtually, barged into the striking circle, went wide, kept going on the goal-line and perfectly flicked back in to Deepak Thakur who despite falling managed to flick in the ball for the equalizer.

For the first time in the match, Lions shoulders drooped.

The first seven and a half minutes of silver period didn’t yield a goal. Finally, in the last minute of golden goal period, Dynamos, who were searching for a penalty corner, having thrown an extra forward upfront, earned a vital one.

Sandeep Singh’s flick was on target as the 18,000 plus crowd celebrated enthusiastically.

Both the teams will now meet on Wednesday to decide the Champion.


PHL Final: Lions Go One Up
Premier Hockey League

Bangalore Lions 4 Chandigarh Dynamos 2

Early breaks swung the momentum towards the Bangalore Lions who didn’t falter with their finishing to beat Chandigarh Dynamos 4-2 and take a 1-0 lead in the best of three finals here at the sector-42 stadium in Chandigarh.

For the Lions, Rehan Butt, Len Aiyappa (2) and Tushar Khandekar were the scorers. Dynamos cut the margin through Jugraj Singh and Inderjit Singh Chadha.

If the Lions seized the advantage in the first quarter itself, Dynamos took too much time to re-assemble. Errors were seen in the midfield. Again the Dynamos forward line held on too much refusing to rotate their strikers. Dynamos defenders faltered when ever Lions were in the striking circle.

Lions would have gone up in the first minute itself when Tushar Khandekar after trapping a cross in front of an empty goal stumbled all over it as Sukhbir Gill of Dynamos cleared it away.

Rehan’s goal bound move didn’t happen on the right flank, his normal familiar position. It came through the middle off an error from Sandeep Singh who couldn’t trap the ball. Rehan raced away beating Kamaldeep Singh, the goalkeeper and Jugraj Singh before taking a reverse hit that signaled a brilliant opening goal for Lions.

In the second quarter, Lions kept up the pressure and after earning a penalty corner, Len Aiyappa neatly flicked in past Kamaldeep to bring up goal number two.

The third didn’t take long in coming as the Dynamos were crumbling under pressure. Rehan Butt, this time from the flank cut in, lobbed the ball over a defenders stick and sent a high cross into the middle of the circle. Tushar Khandekar standing in front of the goal knocked the ball in for the third goal.

The fourth goal came off another perfect flick by Len after Lions had earned their second penalty corner. Four goals down, Dynamos changed Kamaldeep and sent in Baljit.

It was an uphill task to fight back from 0-4 down but the Dynamos picked up the gauntlet.

In the 4th quarter, Jugraj Singh fired in Dynamos first goal off their second penalty corner. With around four minutes left, Deepak Thakur seemed to have scored past Baljit Singh but the umpire declared it dangerous.

Off a counter-attack, Sandeep Singh from the left of the striking circle sent a cross that Inderjit trapped and fired in instantly for the Dynamos second goal.

Chandigarh ran out of time but still lived to fight on Tuseday when the second final takes place. Dynamos will have to play a completely different game tactically if they want to stretch the final to a third crucial decider.


Lions Sneak Into Finals
Premier Hockey League

Sher-e-Jalandhar 3 Bangalore Lions 2

Sher-e-Jalandhar pulled off a thrilling 3-2 victory via the tie-breaker, but it was not enough to stop Bangalore Lions from sneaking into the Premier Hockey League finals on Sunday.

Jalandhar, fourth in the table with a tally of 10 points before the match, needed an outright win in regulation time from the last league encounter to get past the Lions and Hyderabad Sultans, who had 13 and 12 points respectively.

The victory would have still tied the two teams on points but Jalandhar would have progressed by virtue of a better goal average.

As it was, the Lions grabbed a point despite ending on the losing side as they pushed the match into a shoot-out and thereby advanced to the finals.

The Lions, with a final tally of 14 points, will take on Chandigarh Dynamos, who too have the same number of points to their credit.

Jalandhar and Bangalore were level 1-1 at the end of full time and the extra-time session failed to break the deadlock.

For the winners, Kanwalpreet Singh, Harpal Singh and Ajmer Singh scored the goals in tie-breaker while Sandeep Michael and Len Aiyappa netted for the for the Lions.


Dynamos Enter PHL Final
Premier Hockey League

Chandigarh Dynamos 3 Maratha Warriors 1

Local favourites Chandigarh Dynamos defeated Maratha Warriors 3-1 to power their way into the finals of the Premier Hockey League at the Sector 42 Hockey Stadium in Chandigarh on Saturday. Dynamos with 14 points now lead the table while Maratha Warriors who started their league engagements with a bang have been surprisingly relegated.

It was yet again another match in which Warriors dictated the pace of play but lost out.

In the 13th minute, Dhanraj Pillay sent a cross into the circle where Vijay Alphonso deflected the ball in between the defender and goalkeeper Kamaldeep Singh to give Warriors the lead.

Chandigarh Dynamos drew level in the 29th minute. Imran Khan shot into the circle and Mudassar Ali Khan saw his deflection come off Adrian D’Souza. But Dynamos midfielder Inderjit Chadha was close to shoot in.

Cheered on by a crowd of 15,000, Dynamos took the lead in the 48th minute.

Inderjit Chadha sent a long cross to an unmarked Deepak Thakur who rushed into position and slotted the ball between the legs of goalkeeper Adrian D’Souza.

Dynamos had a close shave when a move by Dhanraj Pillay and Shivender ended up in goal after a skirmish in the circle. Pillay claimed a goal but the umpire awarded a penalty corner. Three consecutive penalty corners were taken but the Warriors couldn’t score of any of them.

Dynamos sealed the issue making it 3-1 in the 57th minute. Warriors substitute goalkeeper Sai Ram blocked a Thakur shot and Bomans relayed the rebound to an unmarked Mudasar Ali Khan, who shot into an open goal.

Sher-e-Jallandhar will take on Bangalore Lions in the last league match on Sunday. A victory for Lions will earn them an outright berth in the final. However, if the match is pushed to extra-time, Lions can afford to lose (as they will earn a point) and still make the final with a better goal average than Hyderabad Sultans. If Shers win the match, they will be on par with Hyderabad Sultans on 13 points and Hyderabad will make the finals unless Shers beat Lions by a margin of more than four goals in the regulation time.


Sultans Put It Across Lions
Premier Hockey League

Hyderabad Sultans 6 Bangalore Lions 4

Vikram Pillay successfully converted his stroke to ensure a win for Hyderabad Sultans and keep his team in contention for a place in the final of the Premier Hockey League being played at the Sector-42 stadium in Chandigarh.

In the shoot-out, Salman Akbar saved the stroke of Ignace Tirkey and it was Vikram’s stroke that ensured reigning champions Hyderabad Sultans end their campaign on a winning note chalking out a 6-4 victory via tie-breaker against the Bangalore Lions.

Sultan get two points and now lead the table at 13 points but still await the result of the last two matches to decide their fate and will be rooting for Warriors to beat Dynamos on Saturday. Lions with 12 points have one more outing and are in a must-win situation against Shers in the last league encounter.

Both the teams needing a victory in regulation time went all out playing attacking hockey but the scores after full-time were 2-2.

In the tie-breaker, Didar Singh, Shakeel Abbasi, Samir Dad and Vikram Pillay were all successful while only Arjun Halappa and Sandeep Michael converted for Bangalore Lions. Rehan Butt failed hitting the post while Ignace Tirkey's weak push was saved by Salman Akbar.

In the first quarter, Lions took the lead in the 15th minute. Sabu Varkey sent Rehan Butt into the striking circle but the Pakistan striker was brought down by Devinder Singh. Satinder Singh signaled for a stroke.

Len Aiyappa, with a new stick as the bend of his earlier stick didn’t meet regulations, still managed to sent a powerful flick past goalkeeper Salman Akbar.

The equalizer for Sultans came in the 2nd quarter. Vikram Pillay’s long ball was not trapped neatly by Len and the resultant bounce went to Jorge Lombi who shot in to ensure that both the teams were on equal measure.

In the same quarter, 2nd, Sultans took the lead after a brilliant move by Shakeel Abassi. Sardar sent the ball upfront to Didar who crossed into the circle. But as Len waited for goalkeeper Chetri to clear, the Pakistan forward sped in, picked up the ball and from an almost impossible angle sent the ball into goal.

Lions equalized in the 46th minute of the third quarter. Quintana not getting past Lazarus Barla gave a pass to Ignace. After he had opened up the space on the flank, Quintana got the ball back and sent a first timer past Salman Akbar in the Sultans goal.


Kanwalpreet Trips Warriors
Premier Hockey League

Sher-e-Jalandhar 2 Maratha Warriors 1

Kanwalpreet Singh's double strike sent Maratha Warriors crashing to defeat and virtually put them in no-mans-land from where relegation now seems a reality.

Sher-E-Jalandhar who once seemed to be heading for relegation, must have heaved a sigh of relief.

Shers settled in early and struck in the 9th minute off a Kanwalpreet Singh penalty corner drive that beat Adrian D'Souza.

Two minutes later, Shers forced two successive penalty corners and off the second after a skirmish the ball hit Sunil Yadav's leg and the third umpire pointed for a stroke.

Kanwalpreet, who took the stroke, sent a powerful scoop to the left top corner of the net to make it 2-0.

Dhanraj Pillay, though not at his best, still excelled as a playmaker with a knack to find space and time to reach his forwards. Adnan Zakir was fast and combined well with Shivender in the attack but Shers' defenders Kanwalpreet Singh and Harpal Singh stood up to the challenge.

Prabhjot Singh was his usual self when he beat Adrian d'Souza but still couldn't put the ball into an empty net.

Warriors reduced the margin in the 37th minute converting their first of the three penalty corners earned in the match. Imran Warsi sent a stunning drag-flick into the right corner to beat rival custodian Maninder Singh.

Spurred on by the goal, Warriors lifted their game and made their attacking intent evident but all they got for their efforts were two penalty corners. But those two were wasted.

Shers, who have 10 points after this match, play their last encounter with Bangalore Lions on January 29 while Maratha Warriors, who are last on the table with 8 points, must win their last tie with Chandigarh Dynamos on Jan 27 and hope for Shers to lose, to avoid relegation.


Sultans Lord It Over Dynamos
Premier Hockey League

Hyderabad Sultans 1 Chandigarh Dynamos 0

Defending champions Hyderabad Sultans notched a crucial victory over Chandigarh Dynamos, winning by a solitary goal in the Premier Hockey League in Chandigarh on Thursday.

The winner for Sultans came in the fourth quarter, when Johnson Ekka passed the ball to an unmarked Shakeel Abbasi, who made no mistake, striking it into the net in the 63rd minute.

Sultans showed good combination and stick work and made a number of attacks on the Dynamos goal.

While Sultans missed the two penalty-corners they forced, Dynamos could not earn a single penalty-corner.

With this win, Sultans joined Bangalore Lions and local favorites Chandigarh Dynamos at the top of the points table.

All the three teams are tied with 11 points each. This win also ensured that the defending champions would not be relegated to Tier II.

Chandigarh Dynamos, led by stand in captain Sukhbir Gill, missed the services of captain Rajpal Singh, who was on the bench because of an injury he sustained in a road accident recently.

The star for Sultans was Pakistan's junior World Cup captain Shakeel Abbasi who seemed to move into form as the teams are on their last run.

The top goal scorer of the tournament so far, Didar Singh, failed to added to his goal tally after his drag-flick in the second quarter went in vain.

Chandigarh Dynamos missed a golden opportunity to take lead in the first half after a deflection from Mudassar Ali Khan was well stopped by Salman Akbar under the bar.

Dynamos got a scare in the third quarter when a beautiful reverse shot from Shakeel Abbassi struck the crosspiece.


Len Roars For The Lions
Premier Hockey League

Bangalore Lions 3 Maratha Warriors 2

By Sundeep Misra

Len Aiyappa’s hat-trick ensured Bangalore Lions beat Maratha Warriors 3-2 and most importantly join Chandigarh Dynamos on top of the Premier Hockey League points table with eleven points.

Len’s hat-trick came off three penalty corners. At one point Lions led 2-0 before Warriors pulled one back and then Len again struck to have Lions lead 3-1. In the dying minutes, Warriors cut the deficit to 2-3.

As seen in almost all of Warriors matches, circle penetrations were more than their opponents but the finishing was dismal. Dhanraj Pillay played one of his best matches in the league so far. Cutting through the middle, right, left, the 37-year-old star had the Lions defence constantly on the run. If luck would have swung Warriors way, then Pillay would have been himself sitting on a hat-trick. But then hockey is all about converting those chances. And on the day, Len Aiyappa was the Lion that roared.

Combinations were excellent both ways as both the teams played an open game, the midfield constantly trying to move up. It was only in the beginning of the fourth quarter that Lions defended and that enabled the Warriors to scramble almost five forwards into their territory.

Len’s first strike was low and fast. But Warriors coach Clarence Lobo must surely have been disappointed with goalkeeper Adrian D’Souza’s late attempt to stop that.

The second Len strike went past the left hand of Adrian and for some unusual reason, Adrian didn’t bring up his glove, the ball striking Viren Rasquinha’s knee and going in.

In between, Warriors kept penetrating but the finish was pathetic.

Finally, in the third quarter, a loose ball sizzled into the striking circle and Dhanraj poked his stick, the ball deflecting into the goal past Bharat Chettri.

They had a few chances again but Shivender couldn’t trap on time.

Off a counter-attack, Lions had a penalty corner, their fifth, in the 4th quarter and Len’s flick was high and fast into the right corner of the net.

With around a couple of minutes left, Adnan Zakir, not one of his best days, dribbled past a battalion of defenders and let loose a cross that ballooned off a Lions defenders foot but before Satinder could blow for a penalty corner, Shivender slapped it high into the goal.

Warriors second goal was just too late and with no time for the equalizer left, they would now need to ensure that they win their last two matches in the league and also hope that the leaders, Dynamos and Lions lose a few.

However, the league is at a very interesting stage. Dynamos and Lions are on 11 points each with Warriors and Sultans on eight each. Sher-e-Jalandhar is one seven. Realistically, all the teams have a chance of moving into the best of three finals for the top two teams who to


Salman Ensures Win For Sultans
Premier Hockey League

Hyderabad Sultans 5 Sher-e-Jalandhar 3

It was a night that Pakistan goalkeeper Salman Akbar won’t forget in a hurry. With the match having gone into the tie-breaker, Salman took Hyderabad Sultans past Sher-e-Jalandhar 5-3 in the Premier Hockey League at the Sector 42 Hockey Stadium in Chandigarh on Tuesday.

Both the teams were locked 1-1 after the regulation time and failed to resolve the deadlock in extra-time.

Salman blocked two strokes which saved the day for Sultans.

First, he moved to his left to save Kanwalpreet Singh`s stroke and then moved to his right to save a weak shot from Gagan Ajit Singh. Only Ajmer Singh and Harpal Singh converted for Shers.

For Sultans, Didar Singh, Shakeel Abbasi and Samir Dad were successful while fourth man Amit Srivastava shot over the bar. With the scores at 3-2 all eyes were on Jorge Lombi and the Argentine star’s low flick beat Shers' goalkeeper Maninder Singh.

Shers could have wrapped up the match in regulation time but missed almost 7-8 clear chances.

But it was Sultans who took the lead against the run of play with a counter attack. During the counter they earned their only short corner in the 14th minute and Didar Singh was bang on the target with his low flick to the boards. (1-0).

Shers got the equalizer in the 38th minute from their second penalty corner. Baljit Singh Dhillon’s flick was saved by Salman Akbar. But Bevan Hari picked up the rebound and gave it to Prabjot Singh who only had to tap in.

In the last minute, Shers had three consecutive penalty corners but they still couldn’t finish off the match.
After six matches, Sultans have eight points while Shers are at the bottom of the table with six.


Thrilling Win For Dynamos
Premier Hockey League

Chandigarh Dynamos 2 Bangalore Lions 1

With only seconds remaining, Deepak Thakur came out of nowhere to score the equalizer for Chandigarh Dynamos while Sandeep Singh struck the silver goal to send Bangalore Lions crashing to a 2-1 defeat in the Premier Hockey League at the Sector 42 Hockey Stadium here on Monday.

It was a free hit for Dynamos, just outside the 25-yard line that changed the fortunes for the team. With all the Lions defending in the circle, Sandeep Singh struck a defence-splitting cross. Deepak Thakur’s deflection close to the right post saw the ball zip into the net. Seconds later, the hooter sounded for the end of regulation time.

Despite losing skipper Rajpal Singh and goalkeeper Baljit Singh, who were injured in a road accident, Dynamos dominated the game.

The midfield was well controlled by Inderjit Chadha and Imran Khan while Tejbir Singh and Pakistan’s Mudassar Ali Khan had an excellent match upfront.

In the start of the match, Dynamos were unlucky as off two penalty corners, Deepak Thakur hit the post twice.

The Lions goal came against the run of play. In the 50th minute the first penalty corner hit Sandeep Singh on the leg and the second was awarded. But after a dummy by the Lions, Arjun Halappa struck the goal with a low shot.

After Dynamos scored the last-minute goal through Deepak Thakur and pushed the match into extra-time, they earned a short-corner in the last few seconds of the first half. Sandeep Singh executed a perfect drag-flick to provide the silver goal in the 77th minute and two points for Dynamos.

Lions Spanish import Jordi Quintana was given marching orders with a red card by umpire Shakeel Qureshi for dangerous play. He also gave a yellow card to Pakistan’s Mudassir Ali Khan of Dynamos for aggressive behaviour.
Dynamos now have 11 points after six matches and are leading the table while Lions are on 8 points after five matches.


Marathas Get Past Sultans

Dhananjay Mahadik was the hero for Maratha Warriors when his stroke was on target in the tie-breaker to give a much wanted and important victory to the Warriors over Hyderabad Sultans.

Warriors pipped Hyderabad Sultans 4-1 after the shoot-out to notch two points in the Premier Hockey League at the Sector 42 Hockey Stadium in Chandigarh on Sunday. With both the teams scoring one goal each in the regulation time, the match was pushed into the extra-time.

After a goalless first half, Warriors took the lead in the 38th minute through their first short corner with Imran Warsi sending a fierce drag flick into the net beating rival custodian Salman Akbar. (1-0)

Warriors missed two sharp chances in the match but brilliant goalkeeping by Adrian D'Souza kept them in the hunt. Adrian was awarded the Lion of the match for his excellent show. In the 40th minute, Pillay put Adnan Zakir in possession on the right and Adnan went on a solo run on the goalline before sending it into the goalmouth after drawing out the goalkeeper. But Shivender fumbled and missed a golden chance.

However, Sultans pushed the match into extra-time with an equalizer in the 56th minute. It was Lazarus Barla who initiated the move and sent a long ball to Sardar Singh on the right flank. Sardar relayed a square pass into the middle to Devinderpal Singh and the latter shot into the circle where a diving Nitin Kumar slapped into the goal but a goalline save by William Xalxo saw the ball reach an unmarked Didar Singh at the top of the circle. Didar undercut the ball into the net past a stranded Warriors' custodian Adrian D`Souza.

After five matches, Warriors have eight points while Sultans are on six.


Orissa Clinch Tier II Title

New entrants Orissa showed nerves of steel to come back from 1-2 down to beat Imphal Rangers 3-2 and clinch the Premier Hockey League (Tier II) title here at the Sector-42 Hockey Stadium.

Orissa took the lead minutes after the start when Birender Lakra sent a cross to Sunil Ekka whose first timer beat the Rangers goalkeeper.

Rangers found the equalizer in the 13th minute when Jayanta Singh flicked from their first penalty corner successfully past the Orissa goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh.

Rangers shocked the Orissa team when Chittaranjan was obstructed by Orissa defender Kuldeep Singh in the circle and Javed Sheikh pointed for a stroke.

Brojen Singh converted to give the lead to Imphal.

Orissa found the equalizer when they converted their third penalty corner in the 3rd quarter.

Sunil Ekka`s first strike was blocked by Imphal custodian Herojit Singh but an alert Anand Tirkey retrieved the ball after a goal-mouth melee and tapped in. (2-2)

The match-winner and title winner came in the 67th minute off their fourth penalty corner. Rajesh Lakra was on target with a low flick as Orissa celebrated.

Orissa Steelers garnered 21 points to win the gold medal and a prize-money of Rs.4 lakhs while Chennai Veerans with 19 took the silver and carried home Rs.2.5 lakh. Delhi Dazzlers earned Rs.1 lakh for the third place. Orissa skipper Sunil Ekka won the man of the tournament and became richer by Rs.75,000 while Bangalore SAI sports hostel boy Raghunath scored 10 goals for Chennai Veerans through his dreaded drag-flicks to become the top-scorer of the First Division winning Rs.50,000.


Shers Beat Dynamos

Finally, Sher-e-Jalandhar struck form and beat Chandigarh Dynamos 1-0 in a fast paced encounter. For Dynamos, it was their second consecutive defeat.

Shers started on an attacking note and earned a short corner in the very sixth minute and took the lead, which turned out to be the match-winner. After Baljit and Daljit had sold the dummies to the Dynamos defence, Gagan Ajit Singh struck a perfect shot that gave the lead to Shers.

For Shers, their imports, Saqlain and Bevan Hari combined well in the attack with Gagan and Baljit Dhillon while Prabdeep Singh was prominent in midfield making a lot of interceptions.

Dynamos livewire Deepak Thakur was completely bottled up and with midfielder Inderjit Chadha not up the mark, Dynamos were suffering badly.

Dynamos lifted their game in the third quarter with Tejbir Singh making good moves and they earned four penalty corners but their drag flick specialist Sandeep Singh failed to go in for any variations and was proved ineffective as Shers sorted him out with ease.

In the last quarter, the Jalandhar boys defended with almost nine men at the back and though Dynamos had their chances, they couldn’t convert.

After five games, Shers have six points from two wins while Dynamos are on the top with nine points


Dazzlers Stroke Out Nawabs

Dazzlers were taken the distance by a fighting Lucknow Nawabs before the Delhi team came up trumps in the tie-breaker after scores had been level at 2-2.

For Delhi, Ajitpal Singh, Sandeep Singh, Mukesh Kumar and Sanjeev Kumar were on target while only Amit Kumar was successful for Lucknow Nawabs.

Delhi now have eight points and were assured of the third place.

Dazzlers took the lead in the 21st minute when Raju after a pass from Sanjeev beat Nawabs goalkeeper with a deft placement.

Nawabs equalized in the 30th minute through a field goal when Md Kaleem sent a long ball from the midfield into the circle and an unmarked Cyril Ekka, trapped and positioned himself before taking a crack at the goal. (1-1)
The lead was Delhi’s, once again, in the 48th minute when they converted a stroke through Raju.

Lucknow pushed the match into extra-time scoring a goal from their fifth penalty corner two minutes before the hooter. Arvind Yadav sent a powerful direct hit to the boards to beat Delhi custodian Shakti Singh. (2-2)


Dynamos Crash To Sultans

Chandigarh Dynamos came crashing down to mother Earth. Suddenly the team that could do no wrong just didn’t have a clue against Hyderabad Sultans, who finally struck form to beat Dynamos 2-0.

Sultans' controlled the midfield with Vikram Pillay, Nitin Kumar and Sardara Singh displaying their best of the tournament.

Dynamos suffered a major setback in the 12th minute when Jugraj Singh was hit on the face during a penalty corner strike. Back in the defence of the Sultans, Indian captain Dilip Tirkey came back into form and along with Lazarus Barla tore through the Dynamos midfield with long shots.

Sultans earned a penalty corner in the 3rd minute when Dilip Tirkey sold a dummy and Didar Singh made space to crash a flick into the top corner. (1-0)

In the 31st minute, Sultans could have increased the lead when Vikram Pillay sent a long cross into the circle and to the dismay of the Sultans players, Shakeel’s deflection rebounded off the goalkeeper’s pads.

Hyderabad closed the match out in the 67th minute with a brilliant field goal by Didar Singh. The move was initiated by Sardara Singh moving in from the right flank and giving it to Didar who dribbled past a defender and then comfortably beat Baljit Singh in the goal.

After four matches, Hyderabad have five points while Dynamos remain on nine.


Lions Roar Past Warriors
Premier Hockey League

Bangalore Lions 3 Maratha Warriors 1

Clarence Lobo’s fears came true as the Maratha Warriors with a clear chance of going jointly into the top position in the Premier Hockey league crashed to the Bangalore Lions 1-3 here on Thursday evening in Chandigarh.

Warriors going into the match against Bangalore Lions were on six points. And Lobo knew that if something was to go wrong for the team it was the finishing in the forward line.

Even though Sandeep Michael gave the lead to Lions in the 25th minute, Warriors enjoying space in the midfield looked sure of equalizing and also putting it across the Lions.

Imran scored off the first penalty corner that Warriors won, the flick zooming past the Lions goalkeeper Chetri.
But then warriors wasted three penalty corners.

“My strength is our defence and midfield but I am a little worried about the finishing in the opposition striking circle,” Lobo had said before the match.

Dhanraj Pillay who had a good game in the first two quarters also missed a super chance but took the ball too wide of Chetri. A reverse shot would have done the trick but over the years Pillay’s only weakness has been his shot taking ability in the striking circle.

Shivender Singh also missed some sharp chances.

Maybe, nothing of this would have happened if a move in the 7th minute of the match would have sealed an opening goal for Warriors. Dhanraj punched one through the midfield and Shivender opened up the defence with a beautiful cross. Vijay Alphonso standing in front of Chetri couldn’t trap the ball. An early goal could have put the Lions under pressure.

Lions came back strongly in the second half. It was clear that the Warriors midfield was wilting and the defence under extra pressure was committing mistakes.

Lions scored off their first penalty corner with Len beating Adrian D’Souza with a low shot. Adrian’s bad run since the Champions Trophy continues.

But Lobo’s strength, his defence also let him down when every move became important for the Warriors as they went on the look-out for the equalizer.

Xalxo couldn’t trap the ball cleanly and it bounced off his stick and went to Tushar Khandekar who turned and with a reverse shot beat Adrian on the near post. It was a goal that Adrian should have stopped.

But the Lions were roaring now with a 3-1 lead.

Warriors wilted away in the last ten minutes. “At that moment, the team needed to hold the ball,” said Lobo. “And we were just not coming good with crosses either.”

Lions go to second position in the PHL with seven points and Warriors are still on six.

Lobo still has hopes but that optimism rests on Warriors winning the rest of the matches. “I still think we can do it,” he says. “But as I said earlier, we need to perfect our finishing.”


Dynamos Are Rocking
Premier Hockey league

Chandigarh Dynamos 3 Bangalore Lions 2

Yet another professional display by Chandigarh Dynamos in front of a 15,000 plus crowd and the score line 3-2 against Bangalore Lions seriously sets up the Dynamos as a potential Premier League Hockey Champions.

Dynamos are leading the table with nine points and only a completely inept display could dislodge them now.

Of course, the confidence should be sky-high. For the Dynamos, the flag-bearer was again Deepak Thakur who scored the second and set up the other two. Selectors, the Indian Hockey Federation and coach Rajinder Singh junior should be examining their own decisions in keeping Thakur out of the firing line at the Champions Trophy. Or maybe, the argument could be that having kept him out, he has staged a brilliant comeback.

Dynamos went into the lead in the 7th minute when Deepak Thakur won a penalty corner in the Lions striking circle. Sandeep Singh’s flick rebounded off goalkeeper Chetri’s gloves. But Davinder Pal Singh was there to shoot in.

Lions were just off-colour. Of course, the scoreline may suggest that the match was close but Dynamos could have won by a bigger margin. Lions also didn’t help their own cause by constantly chatting up the umpire, especially Javed Sheikh. Even captain Arjun Halappa needs to examine his own role in taking on the umpires.

Dynamos also contributed to the battle against the umpires when Imran Khan was shown the yellow card in the 4th quarter. Deepak Thakur went up and was seen shaking his finger at Javed. Somewhere international players need to understand the word ‘discipline.’

Dynamos, meanwhile struck again in the 13th minute when Thakur started a move on the half-line, gave it to Tejbir who overlapped well and sent a cross to the left flank for Balder Bomans, the Dutch international. Bomans cut across the defenders, goalkeeper and flicked the ball across the goalmouth which Thakur tapped in for Dynamos second goal.

Lions pulled one back when they earned their first penalty corner in the 13th minute of the third quarter. Len Aiyappa, whose defensive skills were completely awry today, made amends with a brilliant flick. With the scores at 1-2, Lions had started coming back into the game.

And with two minutes left in the third quarter, Rehan Butt picked up a deflection off a defenders stick but his reverse flick was saved by the Dynamos goalkeeper Baljit Singh. An equalizer at that juncture could have turned the match, either way.

But Dynamos, pressing hard in the 4th quarter, found the space in the 11th minute. Deepak Thakur going into the striking circle and then passing wide to Bomans who had been left unmarked. The Dutch striker’s first timer beat Chetri hands down as Dynamos led 3-1.

A little later, Dynamos were down to ten men as Imran Khan was shown the yellow card for a wild tackle.

With around three minutes left in the match, Prabodh seized a ball in the midfield and sent it to an overlapping Rehan on the left flank. Jugraj came into trap but the deflection carried to Rehan who struck the second goal for Lions with a rising shot.

Nine points in the bag and Dynamos are suddenly the team to beat.


Lions Roar Past Shers
Premier Hockey League
Bangalore Lions 2 Sher-E-Jalandhar 0

Bangalore Lions tamed the Shers with a 2-0 victory in the PHL on a Saturday night.

It was Pakistan star Rehan's night out as he put in a brilliant display. But what knocked the bottom out of the Jalandhar team was a lack-lustre display in the midfield.

Lions took the lead in the 29th minute after a bout of passing between Ignace, Rehan and Bimal. Finally, it was Rehan but put in the finishing touches.

Two minutes later, Lions posted their second goal. Sandeep Michael put Tushar Khandekar through. Tushar went through the Sher defence and sent a cross into the goal mouth. Sandeep had postioned himself well to deflect the ball into goal.

Lions now have four points while Shers remain on three points after four games.


Thakur Strikes For Dynamos
Premier Hockey League

Chandigarh Dynamos 2 Maratha Warriors 1

Domination doesn't always result in a win. And on a cold evening at the Chandigarh Hockey Stadium, Maratha Warriors found that fact quiet true.

After almost dominating sixty percent possession, Warriors had to walk back defeated 1-2 at the hands of the hosts Dynamos.

The man who single-handedly beat back the warriors was none other than Deepak Thakur with two amazing strikes. Along with sending the Chandigarh fans into sudden bouts of dance fits, the message also must have gone into the offices of the Indian Hockey Federation that maybe, Deepak Thakur is looking for a recall.

With the scores tied at 1-1 and 12 seconds remaining on the clock, Sukhbir Singh Gill, former international, let loose a cross from outside the circle. Warriors defender Sunil Yadav failed to trap and also didn't realise that Thakur's stick was almost flat on the ground. the deflection off the curved end shot high into the net surprising Adrian D'Souza in the Warriors goal.

Maratha Warriors did everything but score. Dhanraj Pillay had another good game passing and deflecting with uncanny accuracy.

But it was Dynamos who opened the scoring off a pass from the deep by Jugraj Singh. Tejbir picked up the long shot, trapped and gave it to Rajpal who went past two defenders and gave it to Deepak's right which was then changed and the Indian star sent a fierce reverse shot that went between Adrian's pads.

Warriors upped the tempo and could have got the equaliser but the goals were not coming.

Warriors had four penalty corners in the match and it was off one of them that they snatched the equaliser when Imran fired in the penalty corner.

Thirty seven penetrations into the 25 yard circle tell us the story of a warriors domination but the story was off Dynamos who fought and took the match with a stunner.


Salaria Stars for Steelers
Premier Hockey League

Orissa Steelers 2 Imphal Rangers 1

Orissa Steelers went through some anxious moments before getting the better of Imphal Rangers 2-1, thanks to a golden goal.

Steelers were surprised by the Rangers in the second minute itself when a penalty corner won by Brojen Singh was shot in by Jayanta Singh who beat Orissa goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh.

With both the teams not giving an inch, penalty corners forced in the 32nd minute gave the equaliser to Orissa. Off the second consecutive penalty corner, Steelers won a stroke and Inder Singh Salaria converted.

Rangers could have taken the lead but their penalty corners, four in the third quarter failed to yeild any result.

In the middle of the second half for the golden goal, Orissa won a penalty corner that got converted into a stroke with Salaria getting his second goal of the match.


Shers Post First Win
Premier Hockey League

Sher-e-Jalandhar 1 Hyderabad Sultans 0

Having started slowly in their first two matches which ended up in losses, Sher-e-Jalandhar on Thursday against Hyderabad Sultans attacked with vibrancy in the midfield and in a rather slow-coach match won 1-0 to post their first win in three matches in the Premier Hockey League in Chandigarh on Thursday.

Former Indian captain Baljit Singh Dhillon, off colour in the first two games, played at another level, showing that class doesn't die overnight. The ball was rotated well with Sultans not having much of the possession.

After an expensive miss by skipper Gagan Ajit Singh, Shers earned their first penalty corner in the 10th minute.

Daljit's push was set up by Prabhdeep for Kanwalpreet whose perfect hit beat Devesh Chauhan.

In what was a tactical move, Shers held possession and kept the match confined to the midfield.

Gagan Ajit Singh, at a loose end, in the first two games, finally found some passes coming his way and there was a hint of urgency in the ball play of Baljit Dhillon and Muhammad Saqlain.

Reigning Champions Sultans must be a worried team with a second loss in their third match. But more worrying must be the complete lack of form or the failure of Shakeel Abbasi and Jorge Lombi to combine with the rest of the team.

In the third quarter, Hyderabad couldn't make use of any of their three penalty corners. In the first two Lombi failed and then Dilip direct hit was saved by Maninder Singh in goal.

Nawabs Go Past Dazzlers

Premier Hockey League
Lucknow Nawabs 4 Delhi Dazzlers 3

Lucknow Nawabs caused a major upset beating Delhi Dazzlers 4-3 in the First Division of the Premier Hockey League-II at the Sector 42 Hockey Stadium in Chandigarh on Thursday.

Nawabs had a 4-1 lead but a late comeback staged by Dazzlers saw them cut the margin by two goals. Nawabs held onto earn three points and walk away with a upset.

Dazzlers are coached by former Indian coach Rajinder Singh Senior.

Lucknow took the lead in the 6th minute with a fast counter-attack.

Sanjay Yadav broke free and gave the ball Cyril Ekka, whose crack at goal was fruitful.

Dazzlers came back to equalise with a superb effort off a reverse flick by Ajitpal Singh.

Nawabs had the lead in the 15th minute. Hamza Mujtaba had Kamlesh Parihar in his sights just outside the circle and Kamlesh wasted no time with a fierce grounder. Lucknow Nawabs scored two more goals in the space of three minutes by the end of the second quarter.

Dazzlers found the space after Nawabs fell back to defence. In the 51st minute, Kushwant Singh Bagwa's penalty corner found the net for the scores to be 2-4. Delhi struck again with Ajitpal Singh whose shot came off the pads but the player showed amazing skills to again latch onto the ball and shoot home for 3-4.

Bansals Boys Come Good
Premier Hockey League

Orissa Steelers 3 Chennai Veerans 2

Coached by one of the best brains in Indian hockey, Orissa Steelers played a tight defensive game and didn't concede a single penalty corner to outwit Chennai Veerans 3-2 and put themselves in a super position to finish on top of the PHL first division.

Bansal's tactics were enough to ensure that Steelers didn't crowd their defence and concede penalty corners thus completely neutralising Veerans penalty corner threat in Raghunath.

Orissa took the lead in the 17th minute, when Sushil Tete sent a cross into the circle for Sunil Ekka to stretch his stick and deflect home.

Veerans came back into the game with the equalizer in the 26th minute. Jalwinder Singh's pass found Adam Sinclair whose weak shot surprisingly hit the pads of the goalkeeper and went in.

At the break, both the teams were equal at 1-1.

Veerans took the lead in the 37th minute. Raja found Gurbaj whose center was connected by Jalwinder Singh at the far post. Chennai led 2-1.

Orissa restored parity on a counter-attack after a shot rebounded off the goalkeeper and Birender Lakra gave it to Anand Tirkey whose fierce shot was enough to tie the scores at 2-2.

Orissa found the match-winner in the 61st minute following their second penalty corner. Rajesh Lakra’s drag flick went off the gloves of Veerans` goalkeeper Sreejesh and hit the net.

Veerans had a chance to equalise again but Sinclair shot straight into the Orissa goalkeeper.

Now Orissa lead the table with 10 points to Chennai’s eight.

Chennai Drub Rangers (T2)

Premier Hockey League
January 11, 2006

Chennai Veerans 5 Imphal Rangers 1

Chennai Veerans are looking at a 2007 comeback into the Premier Hockey League elite division after a 5-1 drubbing of Imphal Rangers.

Chennai opened the score in the 15th minute when a Gurbaj shot was taken on the pads by the Rangers’ goalkeeper Herojit Singh. Indian team player Raja lurking near by picked up the rebound and shot in for Veerans to lead 1-0.

Rangers didn’t wait long for the equalizer. Brojen Singh darted into the circle and was stick-checked by Sivabalan. Brojen didn’t commit any mistake with the stroke awarded by umpire Haider Rasool.

Three penalty corners converted by Raghunath destroyed any hopes that Rangers had off causing an upset.

Raghunath converted in the 29th, 48th and 69th, his powerful drag flicks destroying the Rangers defence.

With seven goals in the tournament so far, Raghunath has a great chance off ending up as the tournaments top goal scorer.

While the penalty corners were on, Raja broke through the defence, dribbled past the goalkeeper and just when lunging to shoot into goal, he was stick-checked. Umpire Rasool again pointed for a stroke which Vikram Kanth converted.

Chennai Veerans now have eight points and are leading the table. Their next match is against Orissa Steelers on Tursday. Rangers have three points from three matches.

Imports Positive About PHL
Premier Hockey League
January 9, 2006

By Akash Ghai/G.S.Paul

The second edition of the Premier Hockey League (PHL) here has attracted spectators in large numbers for it has given them a chance to watch their local heroes in action.

It has also given them an opportunity to watch players from foreign countries like Pakistan, Spain, Holland and Argentina, play alongside Indian players during the Tier 1 matches, being played under floodlights.

Along with India’s top players like Dhanraj Pillay, Gagan Ajit Singh, Dilip Tirkey, Viren Rasquinha and Deepak Thakur, many big names of foreign hockey like Balder Bomans and Lodewijak from Holland, Pau Quemada from Spain and Mohammad Saqlain and Rehan Butt from Pakistan are displaying their skills during the matches.

The foreign players are also candid to talk about the growth of hockey in the subcontinent, where the game has been through a bad phase lately, along with the status of the game in their respective countries.

Lodewijak, the Holland defender, came with the purpose to learn dribbling skills from Indians.

“Indians are very fast on the field but they lack finishing touch. I am here to learn some special techniques.

Moreover, in Holland we cannot continue our training because of snow, so the league provides us with the opportunity to continue our training,” quips Lodewijak, who is member of Maratha Warriors and plays for Bloemendaal Club in Holland.

Countryman Balder Bomans, an admirer of Dhanraj Pillay, is also excited and delighted to be part of the local team — Chandigarh Dynamos.

Bomans says it is a good initiative to conduct the PHL in the city as it has infrastructure of international level.

“These types of competitions will help India find the lost glory,” feels Bomans, who plays for Amsterdam Hockey Club.

Spaniard Pau Quemada, a national team striker, terms the tournament a good competition as many top players are taking part.

Pau is representing Sher-e- Jalandhar and this is his second visit to the city. He earlier came here with the Spanish team to play against India.

He also wants to spend his holiday with his girlfriend here after the culmination of the league.

“Playing with Indian and Pakistan players is a good experience and it provides good opportunity to hone my skills,” he says.

However, Pakistan skipper Mohammad Saqlain, who is part of Sher-e-Jalandhar, feels that Indians should play as a cohesive unit. They should focus on group game and shed individual interests.

Besides, there is a need to upgrade the facilities as well as financial status of hockey players.

Countryman Rehan Butt, however, feels that the talent of players like Sandeep Singh is not being utilised properly. These players should be given adequate chances in international matches.

Imran Khan, a Pakistan mid-fielder, is delighted to be part of Chandigarh Dynamos. “It is a good platform where we can have the privilege of enjoying an international standard hockey and get some good tips from senior players.”

Commenting on the standard of hockey in India and Pakistan, he feels both teams are capable of toppling their opponents provided they take it seriously and play in their traditional style.

He also criticises the political interference in selection pattern. “Media should play a vital role in promoting the sport,” he opines.

Imran Warsi, another Pakistan player who is representing Maratha Warriors, feels honoured to be part of the tournament.

Speaking on the foggy conditions here, he says: “It is difficult to play in such conditions but we are taking it as a challenge and are determined to give it our 100 per cent.”

Adnan Zakir, who is also playing for Maratha Warriors, is on a learning trip. “Cool weather will not be a problem as we are used to such conditions at Lahore too.”

(Courtesy, The Tribune)

Rangers Are Better Than Nawabs (T2)

Premier Hockey League
January 8, 2006

Imphal Rangers 3 Lucknow Nawabs 2

Rangers looking to avoid being relegated out of the Premier Hockey League Tier II raised their level of play to beat Lucknow Nawabs 3-2 in a first division match here in Chandigarh.

After a barren first quarter, Rangers took the lead in the 21st minute, through striker M Chittaranjan who connected off a cross from the right flank but Lucknow stormed back to restore parity in the next minute. Arvind Yadav’s through gave enough time for Sanjay Yadav to score the equalizer and make it 1-1.

Nawabs took the lead in the 31st minute through another field goal. Arvind Yadav’s fierce shot was taken on the gloves by goalkeeper Robindro Singh but the ball still managed to cross over, kiss the cross piece and settle into the net.

Rangers stormed back into the attack with Brojen Singh, Chittaranjan and Hera Singh combining well.

In the 41st minute, Jayanta Singh converted their sixth penalty corner with a smart drag flick to get the equalizer and then skipper Brojen Singh hammered in the match winner in the 54th minute from the top of the circle.

Rangers, who have three points from this win, will play Chennai Veerans on January 11 while Nawabs take on Orissa Steelers, also on the same day. Nawabs are yet to open their account.

Narrow Win For Veerans (T2)

Premier Hockey League
January 8, 2006

Chennai Veerans wouldn’t be proud of their performance even though they beat Orissa Steelers by a solitary goal.

Actually, both the teams put in a pathetic performance and coach Bansal of Steelers anger was a reaction in the way his team played.

In the 77th minute, Raghunath, after a wonderful performance in the defence for Veerans, scored the match-winner sending a drag flick which had no answer from custodian Gurpreet Singh, who otherwise provided a life-life to the Steelers with two good saves.

According to the PHL rules the first half of the 15-minute extra-time will be played for the silver goal where play will continue for the whole seven and a half minutes even if a goal is scored. But if the score is tied, the second half of the extra-period will be played for a sudden death golden goal.

Steelers had their chances and they created enough movements but the finishing was woeful even though Sunil Ekka and Rajesh Chouhan worked tirelessly.

Veerans have six points from two wins while Steelers have three from their win over Delhi Dazzlers.

Dynamos Too Hot To Handle

Chandigarh Dynamos, egged on by 15,000 screaming fans, beat back Sher-e-Jalandhar 2-0 to start their 2006 Premier Hockey League campaign in style.

Dynamos, who won the first division in 2005 and earned a place in the Premier League were impressive right through the match. They could have won by a bigger margin but too much ball possession robbed them of the crucial passes that could have made a difference.

Deepak Thakur was impressive in his runs while skipper Rajpal Singh tended to hang onto the ball longer than needed. Rajpal did score a goal after the spadework had been done by Deepak but coach NS Sodhi better have a word with his brilliant captain who probably needs to learn a few basic lessons in releasing the ball on time.

But overall, it was an impressive performance and by the look of it, Dynamos, if they can raise their levels against Lions and Warriors, they have a genuine shot of going all the way to the final.

Shers need to do some serious introspection and probably coach Surinder Singh Sodhi should also understand that sometimes benching your non-performing seniors could pay off. Prabhjot Singh along with Baljit Singh Dhillon was one of the main culprits missing goals that could have given the Shers the much needed confidence to comeback into the match after Deepak Thakur had put Dynamos in front.

But a huge credit to goalkeeper Baljit Singh who saved Baljit’s penalty corners and a stinging shot from the former Indian captain.

For Dynamos, Dutch player Balder Bomans was a revelation and one wonders why wasn’t he introduced early. Coach Sodhi would have his reasons but when he came on in the second half, he had the Sher defence reeling. Bomans biggest quality is that he never plays to the gallery and times his pass to perfection.

Dynamos other imports, Pakistan’s Imran Khan and Mudassar Ali Khan were also in the thick of things, combining very well with the rest of the frontline.

Dynamos went ahead in the 31st minute when a defensive lapse saw Deepak Thakur snatching the ball and shot home from just inside the circle, the ball zipping through the pads off the Shers goalkeeper.

With five minutes to go, Dynamos sealed the match and most probably Shers fate in this Premier League. Inderjit Chadha sent a pass to Deepak Thakur whose cross split the defence and went off the goalkeeper Maninder Singh’s pads. The rising ball was whacked into goal by Rajpal Singh.

Shers would now need to win their next two matches to have any chance of coming back into league but what would be worrying them most is the form of skipper Gagan Ajit Singh. The Indian captain at the recently held Champions Trophy in Chennai seems to have lost his touch completely. Something is wrong in the way Gagan is playing and the faster he solves his on the field performance the better it will be for him and for India who need his poaching skills.

Shers will play their third match with Hyderabad Sultans on January 12 while Dynamos, who got three points from this win, will take on Maratha Warriors the next day. After three days of rest, the league will resume on Thursday.

Warriors Cruise Past Shers

Maratha Warriors cruised on the sparkle of unknown elements, Shivender Singh and Bharat Kumar, to carve out an emphatic 2-0 victory over last years Premier League runners-up Sher-e-Jalandhar and record their second win in the 2006 Premier League Hockey here at the Chandigarh Hockey Stadium on Saturday.

Played in front of an 8000 strong Saturday crowd, Maratha Warriors set the pace, punching holes in the defensive capabilities of Jalandhar’s Kanwalpreet Singh and Harpal Singh.

Dhanraj Pillay, a trifle subdued after his superb play against Sultans, still managed to retain a stiff control over the midfield which he juggled very well with Pakistan’s Adnan Zakir.

Early into the first quarter, Warriors coach Clarence Lobo realized that Jalandhar’s aging legs in Baljit Dhillon, Baljit Saini, Daljit Dhillon couldn’t last the pace and very intelligently used Shivender, Bharat and Vijay Alphonso to force the pace and beat them on sheer speed.

Early into the second quarter, Shivender picked up the ball on the right flank and mesmerized everyone with a move that could only be described as ‘brilliant.’ Ball on stick and virtually kissing the touchline, he beat the stick of Kanwalpreet, too see his tap go off the goalkeeper’s glove which Adnan Zakir latched onto fire into the Sher goal in the 22nd minute.

Shers were trying their best but veteran stars are hardly the type who would throw caution to the winds and come out guns blazing. Upfront Sher skipper Gagan Ajit Singh was a lonely figure hardly touching the ball in the match, his poor form carrying over from the Champions Trophy in Chennai.

Shers had a couple of chances through three consecutive penalty corners and off the second it looked like the ball had touched Viren’s foot on the goal-line but umpire Satinder didn’t blow for a stroke.

By the start of the 4th quarter, Shers seemed to be running low on fuel. Prabhjot Singh was his usual self, mistrapping and missing a few sharp chances in the Warriors striking circle.

Warriors wrapped it all up in the 54th minute when Bharat made a lovely run down the right flank, squeezed past the strapping Kanwalpreet and threw the ball up for Shivender who whacked it into goal like a cross-court forehand.

Dazzlers Thrash Rangers


After an even playing field in the first half, Delhi decided to show their strength and came good in the third quarter scoring three goals in five minutes.

In the 39th minute, Raju deflected off a pass from Ravinder Singh.

Delhi increased the lead when Ajitpal Singh gave to Ravinder who beat the goalkeeper with a fierce shot.

The third goal came when Ravinder’s shot went off a defenders stick and Sanjeev fired home.

In the 4th quarter, former India international Brojen Singh scored off an indirect penalty corner to pull one back for the Rangers.

Delhi got their fourth goal when Raju scored off a penalty stroke.

A few minutes later, he scored the fifth with a reverse flick.

Lions Throw Away Lead


It seemed all too easy for Bangalore Lions as they led 2-0. Till Didar Singh decided that the reigning champions Sultans had done enough running around the Lions.

Didar’s hat-trick was brilliant and with this performance one wonders why it’s not being translated on to the international scene. The national coaches would give a better answer to that!

Sultans were collapsing after the 2-0 lead taken by the Lions. But made an amazing come-back to record a 3-2 victory and record their first victory in two matches in the Premier League.

Bangalore started well and took control of the match early through a perfect penalty corner conversion in the 12th minute by Spanish international Jordi Quintana.

Tushar Khandekar was dangerous with his runs down the flanks while Arjun Halappa and Pakistan’s Rehan Butt displayed some breathtaking skills.

With the break five minutes away, Rehan Butt found himself on top of the circle and his thunderous drive zipped onto the boards.

Sultans comeback began with a penalty corner that was hotly contested by the Lions defenders. But the umpire refused to take the help of the Third Umpire. Lions skipper Arjun Halappa was seen pointing towards the Third Umpire but both the umpires refused.

Didar Singh used the opportunity well to cut the deficit and put Sultans on the path to recovery.

A second Didar goal, again off a penalty corner, equalized the scores. And in Extra-Time, Didar’s flick hit Quintana on the hand and the umpire Bhupinder pointed for a stroke.

Didar bagged the player-of-the-match while the Lions licked their wounds wondering how could they manage to throw away a 2-0 lead.

Veerans Demolish Nawabs (T2)

Premier Hockey League
Chennai Veerans 5 Lucknow Nawabs 1
January 6, 2006

Stung by a 13th minute goal from the Lucknow Nawabs, last year’s Premier Division team Chennai Veerans, now relegated to the first division, fought back to beat Nawabs 5-1 in their opening match of the PHL first division here in Chandigarh.

Nawabs opened the scoring against the run of play in the 13th minute. Kamlesh created a lovely move for Prateek who gave a wrong one to the defender before sounding the boards.

Veerans were making the right moves upfront helped by India Team players Adam Sinclair and Raja. A penalty corner conversion later, Veerans had equalized.

Veerans had the lead in the 34th minute when Gurbaj Singh was right in position to pick up a rebound which he shot in past the Nawabs goalkeeper.

Chennai Veerans dominated the midfield and created enough chances. In the 35th minute it helped when they won a penalty corner which was dispatched into goal by Raghunath for Veerans to take the lead.

Veerans domination continued as they won a penalty stroke which Vikram Kanth converted for a 4-1 scoreline.

Two minutes later, Veerans increased the lead with another superb Raghunath dragflick that rounded off the scores at 5-1.

Pillay's Warriors Demolish Sultans
Premier Hockey League
Maratha Warriors 2 Hyderabad Sultans 1
January 05, 2006

Despite cold conditions and a slow start to the match, Maratha Warriors provided the first upset in the Premier Hockey League beating reigning champions Hyderabad Sultans 2-1 in the first match of the Tier I PHL here at the sector-42 stadium in Chandigarh on Thursday.

With both the teams having some good midfielders in their ranks, one expected some superb crosses and through balls but surprisingly the match got muddled up in the midfield itself.

Finally, it took someone with the experience and skills of a Dhanraj Pillay to open up the game as the 36-year-old superstar of Indian hockey gave the edge to Maratha Warriors with a scintillating display.

Sultans were handicapped as Pakistan’s Shakeel Abassi, Argentina’s Jorge Lombi and Sameer Dad couldn’t forge a combination. Sultans could have initially dented the Warriors citadel but Lombi failed miserably with a penalty corner.

In the closing stages of the first quarter, Warriors surged into the lead when Dhanraj Pillay set up in the half-line and then Sunil Yadav sent a perfect pass to Shivender Singh whose rousing shot from quite an acute angle beat Pakistan’s Salman Akbar in goal.

Warriors increased their pace the moment Adnan Zakir was drafted in and with Dhanraj Pillay, both showed off some breathtaking skills in the striking circle.

For Sultans, their skipper Dilip Tirkey seemed a bit off-colour. Coming in after an injury that made him miss the Champions Trophy and then playing the Surjit Singh Final at one in the afternoon, the evening game in the PHL seemed to be taking its toll on the Indian captain.

By the end of the first half, Dhanraj Pillay was literally dominating with his crisp passes that invariably found a player in perfect position.

Into the third quarter of the match, Dhanraj set up the second goal. From outside the striking circle, his low-slap shot found Shivender whose shot was then deflected in past Salman Akbar for Warriors second goal.

Two goals down, urgency seized the Sultans and a flurry of activity was seen in their frontline. Shakeel, Lombi and Dad were combining well but still not good enough to pose a threat to the Warriors defence.

But with four minutes to go for the hooter, Shakeel, finally, cut across three defenders and then scooped over Adrian D’Souza for Sultans first goal.

Warriors 2-1 win over Sultans is a sure pointer that more upsets could follow in this month-long Premier League.

Steelers Brush Past Dazzlers (T2)

Playing the Premier Hockey League for the first time, Orissa Steelers began their campaign with a win brushing aside the challenge of Delhi Dazzlers 2-0 in the Tier II opening match. Dazzlers were the runners-up in the last year’s league.

Both the teams made errors but Orissa capitalized on the chances that came their way to earn full points from this crucial match.

Delhi had the chances initially but poor finishing must have frustrated coach Rajinder Singh Senior.

Orissa slowly settled down and opened up the midfield. The opening came in the 14th minute when a diagonal pass from the left found Bruno Hadnan near the flag. Bruno went past a couple of defenders, his through relayed by Aind to an unmarked Rajesh Chauhan. The former international put the ball in the net past Delhi goalkeeper Sandeep Kumar.

Delhi had their chances, again, in the second and third quarters. Two penalty corners also went waste.

With five minutes to go, Rajesh Lakra finding space in front, fired in a shot into the striking circle where an alert Sunil Ekka deflected into goal to make it 2-0.

In their next match, Delhi Dazzlers will take on Imphal Rangers on Saturday while Orissa Steelers play Chennai Veerans on Sunday.





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