Air India struck thrice in the second-half to beat formidable Indian Airlines 3-1 in the final of the Lal Bahadur Shastri hockey tournament in Delhi on Tuesday.
Captain Vikram Pillay, Pundalik Bellary and Sandeep Michael scored for Air India while India captain Dilip Tirkey reduced the margin for the losers.
Star-studded Indian Airlines have themselves to blame for the defeat. Their forwards squandered many scoring chances while their defenders committed blunders inside the circle, which Air India exploited well to emerge victorious.
This was Airlines' second defeat in the final of an important tournament within a week. They were beaten 2-3 by Punjab Police in the summit clash of the Nehru tournament last Monday.
After a goalless first-half, which saw many opportunities go a begging, Air India took the lead in the 37th minute, when
Vikram Pillay converted a penalty-corner.
In an attempt to find an answer to that goal, Airlines left many gaps in midfield and allowed too much space inside the circle to opposition strikers, which Bellary exploited to score a brilliant field goal and increase Air India's lead to 2-0.
In a swift counter-attack, Bellary dribbled past couple of Airlines defenders before passing the ball to Kishore Kumar, who returned the pass to Bellary to finish in style.
A demoralised Indian Airlines tried to up the tempo and forced a penalty-corner in the 53rd minute, when Pillay was blocked inside the circle. Tirkey made no mistake to reduce the margin.
Pillay, who was brilliant in the match against Bangladesh XI in the semi-finals on Monday, failed to recreate his magic as he was effectively marked by the Air India defenders, particularly former Indian defender Anil Aldrin. He struggled to get past the defenders on many occasions and hardly had any opportunity to test the Air India goalkeeper.
Airlines forced seven penalty-corners but could score only once from them.
Former India right winger Mukesh Kumar was Airlines' worst offender, as he failed to guide the ball into an open goal after getting a pass from Vinay S from the right in the second-half.
Air India put the issue beyond doubt in the 56th minute when Sandeep Michael scored a field goal to leave the