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Namdhari XI rout South Central

April 22, 2006 21:49 IST

Gurpreet Singh essayed three precise and powerful drag-flicks from penalty corners to find the target and power Namdhari XI from Ludhiana to a comprehensive 5-2 win over Bhopal XI into the semifinals of the 44th Bombay Gold Cup hockey tournament in Mumbai on Saturday.

Earlier, Mumbai-based Bharat Petroleum Corporation (BPCL), who also play in the Bangalore league like Namdharis, 'stroked' their way past giant-killers South Central Railway, Secunderabad, 7-6 via sudden death to enter the semifinal round robin.

Gurpreet scored Namdharis' first, second and fourth goals while Harbhajan Singh scored the third - a field effort - before Gurcharan found the target off their fourth and last penalty corner to give them a commanding 5-0 lead over the Bhopal team in the 51st minute.

The Namdharis, who led 2-0 at half time, then let off steam to conserve their energy for the stiffer battles ahead which was taken advantage of by Bhopal XI to reduce the margin of defeat through attractive field strikes by Farzan-ur-Rehman and Altaf-ur-Rehman in the last six minutes.

Before these goals Bhopal were given hardly a good look at the rival goal by the Namdharis who outplayed them with their speed, thrust and drag-flick expertise.

But it took 23 minutes for the winners to earn their first penalty corner and goal when Gurpreet Singh beat Bhopal custodian Abdul Aleem all ends up with a powerful drag-flick.

Gurpreet scored again in similar fashion six minutes before the end of the half before Harbhajan Singh scored the third goal with an angular try from the right in the second minute of the latter half (3-0).

Gurpreet made it 4-0 in the 13th minute of the latter half off Namdharis' third penalty corner before Gurcharan was given a chance to find the mark three minutes later off their last short corner award.

Bhopal too could have scored a penalty corner goal in similar fashion but the crosspiece thwarted Yogendra Singh's try off the third and penultimate set-piece award.

The losers finally got a goal when Farzan-ur-Rehman dived in style to deflect in a long through pass from Siraj-ul-Haq. Altaf-ur-Rehman then sold a dummy and beat Namdhari custodian Swinder Singh with a flick.

Earlier, South Central Railway, who knocked out Punjab Police in the pre-quarters via sudden death, were shut out in a similar manner by Bharat Petroleum after the teams were locked 1-1 in regular time.

SCR once again showed their resilience by fighting back from behind after BPCL went ahead in the 17th minute of play through former international Tushar Khandekar who sounded the board off a square pass from ex-India player Sabu Varkey.

The railmen drew level in the 19th minute of the second half when Mayur Subbhiah flicked home off SCR's third and last short corner.

BPCL could have sealed the railmen's fate in regular time itself but for another fine display under the rival bar by goalkeeper P K Pfokrelo who brought off three fine saves in succession.

The teams were deadlocked 6-all after the first set of penalty strokes and the first two sudden death flicks before N Ramesh's shot was blocked by BPCL custodian Kuttappa and BPCL's Len Aiyappa scored from the spot.

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