Hi-Fliers pip Dynamos to claim PHL title

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Chandigarh, Jan 12: A scintillating performance by Arjun Halappa and goalkeeper Bharat Kumar Chetri paved the way for Bangalore Hi-Fliers to regain the Premier Hockey League crown beating Chandigarh Dynamos 2-1 in the third final here today.

Bangalore played like Lions' and excelled in all the departments. Their defence was solid with Len Aiyappa in excellent form and the midfield took control of the proceedings early on. The probing attack created several anxious moments in the rival defence. Bangalore started on a defensive note considering the early set-backs they had in the previous matches but once Arjun Halappa initiated a raid in the 9th minute sending a deceptive pass to Tushar Khandekar in the circle, things started to move and though Sunil failed to capitalize on that chance, it gave a hint of what was in store for the day.

Tushar and Hariprasad excelled with their speedy runs upfront.

But it was Arjun Halappa who was the livewire for the Bangalore team.

Towards the end of the first quarter, Arjun created some dangerous raids into the rival circle, using the low scoop to good effect.

First he gave a brilliant scoop to Hyo-sik and then a simillar ball to Tushar, the latter though miss the target by inches.

But it was Bharat Chetri who perhaps provided the decisive moment of the match for Bangalore. Early in the second quarter, his brilliant act under the goal saved the Hi-Fliers from conceding a goal.

He saved a menacing Rajpal Singh twice and then dived to his right to clear a Deepak Thakur shot.

Dynamos attack was subdued and Rajpal played well only in patches. Their star forward Deepak Thakur was not in his elements and he missed at least three scoring chances.

Hi-Fliers earned their first short-corner in the 32nd minute and successfully converted it to take the lead. Tushar sent a quick push and Vikramkanth set it up perfectly for Len Aiyappa, who netted the ball in the 32nd minute.

Thereafter, Dynamos best chance came when they earned two short corners in the third quarter but Bharat Chetri was brilliant in Bangalore goal and he stood like a rock barrier between Dynamos' drag flicker Sandeep Singh and the goal.

Chetri made a superb save, palming out Sandeep's flick during the first and then blocked Ravipal's stinging shot.

Bangalore increased the lead in the 62nd minute with Arjun Halappa in the thick of action once again.

He used the low scoop to beat two defenders on the right flank and put Hari Prasad in possession to the right of the circle.

Hari sent a swift cross which beat defender SS Gill in the goalmouth and Bangalore Korean import You Hyo-sik, who was lurking at the far post tapped in to shoot the ball past the goalkeeper.

In the dying seconds of the match Dynamos earned their third and last short corner and Sandeep Singh converted with his drag flick to make it 2-1. But it came little too late in the day.

Bangalore Hi-Fliers earned Rs 40 lakhs winners' check while Dynamos took home Rs 20 lakh. Both the semi-finalist --Hyderabad Sultans and Orissa Steelers-- won Rs 5 lakh each.

Arjun Halappa was declared as Man of the tournament. He pocketed a cool Rs 1.5 lakh while Dynamos' drag flick specialist Sandeep Singh earned Rs 1 lakh winning the top-scorer award with nine goals.

Hi-Fliers who got less number of cards also won the Fair Play award and Rs 1.5 lakh.

Bharat Chetri was the man of the match in the third final and won Rs 15,000.

UNI

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