Air India beat IOCL to lift Murugappa Cup hockey title
15th September 2008
Air India survived a nerve-wracking tie-breaker to beat Indian Oil Corporation Ltd (IOCL) by an aggregate 6-5 scoreline in the final of the 84th All-India MCC Murugappa Gold Cup hockey tournament here on Sunday.
Penalty corner specialist Ramachandra Raghunath (32nd) scored for IOCL and India captain Prabhodh Tirkey equalized in the 43rd minute to keep Air India in the hunt. With the regulation period, followed by 15 minutes of extra-time failing to break the deadlock, the tie-breaker was enforced.
In the penalty shootout, Shivendra Singh, Arjun Halappa, Sandeep Singh and Prabhodh Tirkey for Air India, Raghunath, Didar Singh, Bharath Chhikara and Roshan Minz for IOCL converted the first four strokes.
Gaurav Tokhi came good with Air India's fifth stroke to make it 5-4. The experienced Deepak Thakur (IOCL), under pressure to convert, pushed weakly into goalkeeper Adrian D'Souza to trigger a massive Air India celebration.
During the regulation period, the exchanges were fairly even with both sides, boasting of a clutch of international stars, having their share of scoring opportunities, but failing to cash in on them.
The match also lacked in pace and was more a up-and-down affair with neither team able to establish authority. Also, with rival defenders having a good outing, there were few circle penetrations.
Raghunath's 32nd minute penalty corner conversion, his only successful attempt from three attempts, put IOCL ahead, but on resumption, Air India caught up on an opportunistic goal by Prabodh who after keeping pace with a Shivendra Singh-Bruno Lugun move, was on hand for a diving deflection of a goalmouth cross from the latter in the 43rd minute.
In fact, that proved to be the best move of the match which then spilled over into extra-time during which Prabhjot Singh (IOCL) muffed a sitter.
Source: Times of India