PSB to meet ONGC, BP face Colts in Nehru semis

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Gurgaon, Nov 23 (UNI) Title contenders Bharat Petroleum will meet India Colts while defending champions Punjab and Sindh Bank (PSB) will play ONGC XI in the semifinals of the 45th Nehru Hockey Tournament.

In the final Pool B matches at the Nehru Hockey Stadium here today, Western Railway stunned last year's runners-up Bharat Petroleum 3-1, while ONGC XI chalked up a facile 1-0 win over underdogs President XI Bangladesh.

Bharat Petroleum, with six points from three matches, topped Pool B by virtue of a better goal difference. While ONGC XI also on six points, scraped through as the second best team in the group over South Central Railway (SCR).

From Pool A, PSB with six points, grabbed the pole position due to a superior goal difference with India Colts finishing the league stage at the second spot in the group.

Bharat Petroleum, boasting of several international players in their line-up, were expected to register an easy victory over SCR.

But the Railwaymen, needing a win to stay alive in the tournament, outplayed their much fancied rivals.

They got an early lead when K K Bharath (eighth min) slotted in a pass from Amit Kumar.

SCR got a golden chance in the 15th minute when Bharath dribbled three rival players in the midfield and unleashed a defence splitting through pass. But railway striker N Ramesh failed to beat the rival goalkeeper.

It was the turn of Bharat Petroleum to waste a chance as SCR keeper Swamy Ayyappa produced a diving save to deny the experienced Tushar Khandekar.

Hari Prasad (33rd min) scored with a reverse flick from the top of the penalty circle to level the score for Bharat Petroleum as the teams went into the breather with the score locked at 1-1.

SCR started as the stronger team in the second half and Ashish Minz (58th min) restored their lead through a brilliant field goal.

Moving in from the left, Minz dribbled a coupled of rival defenders and found the target from a tight angle.

The Railway team made sure of victory towards the fag end. Mayank James (63rd min) scored off a through from Bharath to drive the final nail in Bharat Petroleum's coffin.

In the other match of the day, Jayantha Meitei struck the winner as ONGC XI were made to sweat by the Bangladesh team.

ONGC XI had the better of exchanges and could have won by a much bigger margin but were let down by their forwards, who wasted several chances.

They put their noses ahead early in match as Metei (7th min) found the target from a penalty corner.

They could have doubled the lead in the 30th minute but Sunder Singh failed to find the net after dribbling past a couple of defenders in the Bangladesh penalty circle.

The Bangladesh boys were desperate for the equaliser and increased the tempo in the second half. They created a couple of good chances but ONGC XI held on to emerge victorious.

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