Air India rally to lift Gurmit trophy

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Chandigarh, Sep 30 (UNI) Air India and star Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) produced scintillating hockey before the former emerged worthy winners by a 5-2 margin in the hotly-contested final of the 38th SN Vohra's All-India Gurmit Memorial Hockey Tournament at the Sector 42 Hockey Stadium here tonight.

The margin of victory was not the true index of the pattern of the game.

The man who was virtually responsible for former Indian captain Dalip Tirkey-led Air India's victory was mercurial centre forward Dhanraj Pillay who controlled the game well. Besides engineering the moves, former dashing Olympian, Pillay had his hand in Air India's two goals, scored by Cheeyana and f Joga Singh,after IOC, captained by Olympian Deepak Thakur, had shot into the lead early in the game.

Flashy Deepak Thakur gave IOC a great start as he foxed the Air India with a penalty corner conversion in the sixth minute. Despite conceding an early goal, Air India had enough fuel to energise their attacks. Olympian Sameer Dad neutralised the lead in the 16th by scoring a field goal.

With Dhanraj controlling the game, Air India, forged ahead in the 24th minute. With a measured pass from Dhanraj Pillay, AB Cheeyana found the target. In a counter attack IOC restored parity through Olympian Prabhjot Singh who scored a brilliant goal in the 40th minute.

With the scorecard reading 2-2, Air India mounted pressure and IOC goalkeeper Baljeet Singh, made some good saves, erred and conceded avoidable goals. Girish Pimple (52nd), Sandeep Singh (59th penalty corner) and Joga Singh (61st) were goal getters for Air India. The airmen got two penalty corners and IOC four.

Indian Overseas Bank goalkeeper PR Sreetesh was adjudged the best goalkeeper of the tournament. Drag flick specialist Sandeep Singh received the best full back's award. Avtar Singh of Electrical and Mechanical Engineers was presented the best half's award. Deepak Thakur of IOC got the best forward's title.

The victorious Air India team got a pay cheque of Rs 70,000 and Indian Oil Corporation got a cash award of Rs 45,000. Punjab Chief Parliamentary Secretary Harish Rai Dhanda was the chief guest and distributed the prizes.

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