Sindh Qalandars annexed Pakistan's inaugural Super Hockey League when they overpowered Northern Cavaliers 4-3 in an absorbing final before a huge holiday crowd at the Hockey Club of Pakistan Stadium on Sunday night.
A 54th minute penalty corner conversion by Gohar Rasool proved to be the title-winner in a final of fluctuating fortunes in which Qalandars, after having opened the scoring, twice came back from one-goal deficit to claim victory and a handsome prize purse of Rs one million.
Indian captain Dilip Tirkey, representing Qalandars, was delighted with his team's success.
"The victory has been a perfect icing on the cake of what have been almost 10 enjoyable days in Karachi. The competition level was good and it was entertaining to play in front of a good audience," he said.
Cavaliers had to settle with a Rs 5 lakhs runners-up cash award.
Pakistan striker Mohammad Shabbir, representing Qalandars, was adjudged the Player of the League for which he received Rs 300,000 while Qalandars skipper Ahmed Alam won Rs 200,000 after being declared the Best Goalkeeper of the League.
Indian goalkeeper Adrian D'souza received Rs 100,000 for winning the second best goalkeeper's award.
In a final played at good pace with each team attacking relentlessly, Sindh Qalandars broke the ice on a stroke before the first quarter when Rashid Imran nicely tabbed Gohar Rasool's first penalty corner shot in the goal.
Cavaliers, who kept rival goalkeeper Ahmed Alam under immense pressure in the first eight minutes of the match, drew level in the 19th minute when former captain Mohammad Nadeem capitalised from a poor Qalandars clearance and managed to beat Alam with a shot from top of the circle.
Cavaliers took further advantage of the panic in Qalandars' defence when Rehan Butt slammed the ball in the cage two minutes later after being left unmarked on the left side just in front of the goal-mouth.
However, four minutes later, Kashif Jawwad equalised the scores at 2-all when he showed good reflexes and put the ball on top of the net off a rebound.
Cavaliers, nevertheless, were quick to regroup and showed a good penalty corner indirect drill to allow Indian Arjun Halappa to deflect the ball in the net to restore a one-goal lead shortly in the 34th minute.
But that proved to be the final time when smiles came on the faces of the Cavaliers as Adnan Zakir first levelled the match a stroke before the second quarter before a 54th minute goal by Gohar Rasool eventually turned the tide in home team's favor.
As soon as the final hooter blew, Qalandars goalkeeper Ahmed Alam climbed on top of the goalpost and was soon joined by rest of the players.
"I wanted to show the PHF, the hockey selectors and critics that I am fit and can climb on the goal-post even after playing full-time," Ahmed said with sarcasm, indirectly proving the decision-makers wrong who had sidelined him claiming he was not fit.
Pakistan striker Rehan Butt, who ended up on the losing side, said, "It hurts when you lose a final but I think this event had more to do than winning and losing. The prime objective for holding such an event was to unearth the talent and restore interest amongst the masses and new generation. I think the federation has achieved its goal."
Final: Sindh Qalandars 4 Northern Cavaliers 3
Third place playoff: Shan-e-Punjab 3 Baloch Lions 0
5th/6th place playoff: Capital Dynamos 7 Frontier Falcons1.