WSH: Pune Strykers hold Sher-e-Punjab

Punjab drew with Pune
Jalandhar: Star strikers Deepak Thakur and Prabhjot Singh helped home side Sher-e-Punjab build a comfortable lead, but they were forced to settle for a 3-3 draw with the undefeated Pune Strykers in the World Series Hockey 2012 (WSH) at the Olympian Surjit Hockey Stadium on Sunday.

Deepak Thakur was, and still is, a cynosure of all eyes on his home ground, giving finishing touches to the early onslaught of the Shers, but young Bikas Toppo too emulated the senior in coming up with a similar brace of goals late in the match.

Deepak, who seemed to miss some easy opportunities in the beginning, recovered quickly to put the Shers in an unassailable position with two sharp goals in the third minute of the first quarter and then two minutes before the second.

Prabhjot Singh, besides setting up Deepak, struck once in the first minute of fourth quarter.

The first two of Deepak's goals came amidst panic, having unsettled the Pune team that entered the Jalandhar field having won their previous two tight matches.

The third quarter entirely belonged to Pune, though. Mario Almada, who was sparingly used until then, came into his own, and, together with gangling youngster Vikas Pillay, wove cobwebs around the Shers defence.

The Shers wall often cracked and started conceding penalty corners. Gurpreet converted the first of the five penalty corners Pune earned in the third quarter. His knee-high drag flick hit a defenders stick and found home (1-2). Gurpreet's goal - overall his seventh - spurred Pune to go for the onslaught.

However, Prabhjot drew a chasing defender and hurried goalkeeper on the wrong foot before whacking his patented forehand to seal his name on the scoreboard (3-1).

Even as the match was seemed to be in the pocket of the Shers, Bikas Toppo infused life into the game. He bent perfectly to deflect a strong free hit of Vikas Pillay to narrow the score to 2-3 in the 60th minute. He then gave finishing touches to a brainy deflection of Mario Almada to draw level (3-3) in the 65th minute.

Today's Matches (March 5)

7.00 pm Karnataka Lions vs Bhopal Badshahs (Bangalore)

9.00 pm Delhi Wizards vs Chennai Cheetahs (Delhi)


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