Drag-flicker Raghunath converted three penalty-corners to help Chennai Veerans drub Imphal Rangers 5-1 for their third victory in as many matches in the second edition of the Premier Hockey League at the Sector 42 stadium in Chandigarh on Wednesday.
Veerans began on an attacking note with their forwards Raja and Adam Sinclair working in tandem in the frontline but Rangers provided the initial resistance before yielding ground in the 15th minute.
Following a move on the right flank, Vikram Kanth sent a fierce cross into the goalmouth and Gurbaj's shot was blocked by Rangers' custodian Herojit Singh. However, Raja, who was lurking around, sent home the rebound with a reverse hit to open Veerans' account.
Early in the second quarter, Rangers restored parity when a goal-bound Brojen Singh was stick-checked by Veerans' defender Sivabalan and umpire Haider Rasool awarded a penalty-stroke.
Brojen converted the stroke to restore parity.
However, Rangers could not come back into the match as Veerans raised the tempo with repeated raids on the rival citadel.
Veerans earned three penalty-corners in the 29th, 48th and 69th minutes and Raghunath displayed his fine skills, converting all three with powerful drag-flicks.
The SAI sports hostel boy from Bangalore had scored three goals against Lucknow Nawabs and a silver goal against Orissa Steelers. He now has seven goals in his kitty and will be a strong contender for the top-scorer's award.
In between, in the 41st minute, Raja who was well-poised to strike, was stick-checked by Rangers goalie Herojit and umpire Rasool had no hesitation in awarding a stroke.
Vikram Kanth made no mistake from the spot.
With this 5-1 victory, Chennai Veerans have eight points and lead the table.
Veerans take on Orissa Steelers in their next match on Thursday while Rangers meet Steelers the next day. Rangers have three points from three matches.