Karnataka XI staved off a spirited challenge from BHA Colts before romping to a 3-1 victory in a second round match of the Bombay Hockey Association-organised 42nd Gold Cup Hockey Tournament, sponsored by Union Bank, Punjab National Bank and State Bank, at the BHA-Mahindra stadium, in Mumbai on Friday.
In a fast-paced match, Karnataka rallied from a first-half deficit to romp to victory and a passage to the pre-quarter-finals.
Earlier in the afternoon, Central Railway faced little resistance as they steam-rolled past a sluggish Tata Sports Club to register a resounding 3-0 victory in another second round match.
Central Railway showed plenty of flair and combined nicely to totally outclass their rivals. Tatas were not even a pale shadow of their teams of the yore, which had dominated and won the tournament several times.
Central Railway, playing with perfect understanding between the forwards and midfielders, time and again opened up the Tata defence but lacked the vital punch.
They had to wait till the 30th minute to open their account. Prakash Ghumre, who had fumbled a couple of times earlier, finally made amends when he trapped Faroq Umer's measured pass before firing past goalkeeper A.P. Girish under the Tata bar.
Three minutes later, full-back Dhiraj Wagh sounded the boards with a direct hit from their first penalty-corner to give Central a commanding 2-0 half-time cushion.
Central continued to call the shots after the change of ends and got the third goal when Wagh converted a penalty stroke in the 54th minute.
Umpire Shakeel Qureshi awrded the 'stroke' when Tata defender Naved Ali blocked with his body a Nimit Lal try at goal.
Later, the superior Karnataka side did not have an easy time and were made to fight it out by the BHA Colts, who played with plenty of determination. Karnataka did the bulk of the attacking but found BHA goalkeeper Sunny Lamba and the defenders, Solomon Alexander in particular, tough to beat. Lamba did well to block Roland Kiran's firm drag-flick from their third penalty-corner, while Alexander made two timely goal-line saves to deny Karnataka a goal.
First, he stopped on the line Raghunath's angular hit from the sixth penalty-corner in the 30th minute and in the second half cleared to safety Mayur Subbiya's shot from their seventh penalty- corner.
Although Karnataka XI held the upper hand, it was BHA Colts who drew first blood in the 50th minute. The goal came about when Mahesh Bagade dived forward to connect into goal left winger Savio Nayak's hit into the semi-circle.
But BHA Colts' joy was short-lived as Karnataka XI found the equaliser in the very next minute.
Following an indirect drill from their ninth penalty-corner, Laxman Rao, positioned near the right post, guided home Amar Ayamma's diagonal hit from the top of the circle.
Four minutes later Karnataka struck again to take the lead, when Deva Dass pushed into an empty goal a Thiru pass from outside the striking circle.
Sommana made the issue safe for the Karnataka side with a first-time powerful crack from inside the circle in the 66th minute.