Chandigarh Dynamos down Bangalore Hi-Fliers in first final

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Chandigarh, Jan 7 (UNI) Functioning like a well-oiled machine, local favourites Chandigarh Dynamos outsmarted unpretentious Bangalore Hi-Fliers by 3-2 in the first final of the best-of-three in the fourth edition of the Premier Hockey League here toonight.

The winners led 2-1 at half time.

Chandigarh Dynamos scored through Sher Singh (2nd), captain and Man of the match Rajpal Singh (6th) and Olympian Deepak Thakur (37th). Equally matching were Bangalore Hi-Fliers who scored through Sandeep Michael (13th) and Hari Prasad (69th). All five were field goals.

Bangalore drag flick expert Len Aiyappa today found Chandigarh Dynamos defence a stonewall. On two occasions, fullback and drag flicker Sandeep Singh foiled Len Aiyappa's efforts. And on four other occasions, Len Aiyappa found Dynamos goalkeeper Baljit Singh a hard nut to crack as he displayed uncanny anticipation and sharp reflexes.

Bangalore Hi-Fliers muffed penalty corners in the 48th, 58th, 65th, 66th, 67th and 68th minutes. After trailing 1-3, Hi-Fliers forwards were flying all over the ground in the last quarter.

Chandigarh Dynamos forced their solitary penalty corner in the 28th minute which they wasted.

Commenting on today's performance, Dynamos coach Narinder Singh Sodhi said ''I am totally satisfied with their display. They played like a combined unit. Each member of the team gave their more than 100 per cent against the toughest opponents. Bangalore Hi-Fliers were equally good.'' On penalty corner awards to Bangalore Hi-Fliers, Sodhi, former Indian assistant coach said goalkeeper Baljit Singh was outstanding under the bar. Sodhi is confident that his boys would maintain the form and will fight to clinch the title with a 2-0 margin by winning the second final on January 9.

Playing before a packed stadium, Chandigarh Dynamos took an early lead in the second minute when they earned a free hit near the 25-yard line. Defender Sandeep Singh sent a fine shot into the circle and Sher Singh deflected home.

Hardly had the cheers died down when the local outfit doubled the margin. Captain Rajpal Singh dodged past a defender and side-stepped Bimal Lakra before entering the striking cricle and beat Hi-Fliers goalkeeper Bharat Kumar Chetri.

The Hi-Fliers pulled one back in the 13th minute with a fast counter attack. From a Dynamos raid, Ajay Saroha cleared the ball to Vinay who gave a short pass to Arjun Halappa in the middle and Arjun dribbled ahead to put Tushar Khandekar in possession near the circle. Tushar cut into the circle but with rival custodian Baljit Singh rushing at him, he gave a clever pass to Sandeep Michael near the far post. Sandeep finished the formalities without wasting any time.

Charged Dynamos increased the lead once again in the 37th minute when Olympian Deepak Thakur capped a fast counter to make it 3-1.

In the last quarter, Bangalore Hi-Fliers had more possession and better exchanges but found Dynamos defence unbeatable. Towards the end they had four successive short corners but could not score any of them. In all they had six penalty corners today.

However, Bangalore Hi-Fliers were able to reduce the margin in the 69th minute. Hari Prasad just tipped the ball home after he was put in by Bimal Lakra from the left.

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