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Orissa Steelers win Division I PHL
January 22, 2006 19:10 IST
Last Updated: January 22, 2006 19:45 IST
Orissa Steelers made their maiden appearance in the Premier Hockey League a memorable one, winning the First Division championship at the Sector 42 Hockey Stadium in Chandigarh on Sunday.
They will be promoted to the Premier Division for next year's PHL.
Steelers garnered 21 points to win the gold medal and prize-money of Rs 400,000 while Chennai Veerans, with 19 points, took the silver and carried home Rs 250,000.
Delhi Dazzlers earned Rs100,000 for finishing third.
Orissa skipper Sunil Ekka was adjudged man of the tournament and became richer by Rs 75,000.
Bangalore SAI Sports Hostel boy Raghunath scored 10 goals for Chennai Veerans through his dreaded drag-flicks to emerge the top-scorer in the First Division. He became richer by Rs.50,000.
New entrants Orissa showed nerves of steel to come back from 2-1 arrears and brush aside the challenge of Imphal Rangers 3-2 in the last league match on Sunday.
Knowing well that an upset by Imphal would allow Chennai Veerans to take the title, Orissa began with a bang, scoring in the very first minute, but a spirited display by Imphal Rangers made the match interesting.
Orissa mounted a raid on the right flank soon after the start and a Birendra Lakra from a pass into the circle found Sunil Ekka, who sidestepped a defender and sent a cracking shot into the goal from an acute angle.
However, Imphal Rangers raised their game and gave tense moments to the Orissa defence before striking the equalizer in the 13 th minute from the only penalty-corner they earned in the match.
Jayanta Singh sent a waist-high drag flick into the net, beating Orissa custodian Gurpreet Singh. (1-1)
Buoyed by the equalizer, Imphal Rangers played a spirited game and applied pressure on the rival defence in the second quarter. With Brojen Singh and Chittaranjan combining well with Somesh Kantha in the attack, they made repeated raids on the rival citadel and the moves yielded results when Chittaranjan was obstructed by Orissa defender Kuldeep Singh in the circle and umpire Javed Sheikh had no hesitation in pointing to the spot. Brojen Singh, who took the stroke, hit the boards to the right of goalkeeper Gurpreet to take Imphal to a 2-1 lead in the 31 st minute.
After a pep talk by coach A K Bansal, Orissa Steelers stepped up gears and raised their game with Sunil Ekka, Birender Lakra and Rajesh Chouhan making dangerous moves upfront but a goal eluded them till the last minute of the third quarter.
They restored parity for the second time, converting their third penalty-corner, which was taken after the third quarter hooter.
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)
With time running out, Orissa made a desperate bid for the match-winner, weaving patterns in the attack, but missed many chances. However, they earned their fourth and last penalty-corner in the 67 th minute and Rajesh Lakra was on the spot this time with a low drag flick.