Riding on Sandeep's brace Dynamos stun Shers
Chandigarh, Dec 28 (UNI) Cheered by a 10,000-strong crowd local favourites, Chandigarh Dynamos, came back strongly with drag-flick specialist Sandeep Singh striking twice, as they edged past Sher-e-Jallandhar 2-1 in a fiercely-contested match in the fourth edition of the Premier Hockey League at the Sector 42 Hockey Stadium here tonight With their aggressive and attacking brand of hockey both the local favourites provided thrilling moments for the huge crowd who braved chilly weather to witness the match under lights.
Shers took a first look at the rival goal in the very first minute with Jarnail Singh taking a shy at the goal. Dynamos goalkeeper padded away Jarnail's shot but soon Jarnail drew the first blood for Shers in the seventh minute. Shers' defender Jugraj Singh initiated a counter attack sending a long ball into the rival 25-year area to put Mandeep Singh in possession. Dynamos' Rajpal Singh tried to clear Mandeep's weak shot but he too fumbled with the clearance and Shers' youngster Gurvinder Chandi gained the ball. Chandi hit touched a defender's stick and went to his teammate Jarnail Singh on the left of the circle. Jarnail dodged past Dynamos defender Sandeep Singh and moved in before sending a power-packed reverse hit into the boards from a narrow angle to beat Dynamos' custodian Baljit Singh.
Shers fell back after the lead and started to crowd the defence even as Dynamos took control of the midfield with their Pakistani import Ghazanfar Ali performing admirably as a centre-half. He was feeding his forwards consistently and controlled the tempo of the game. His good ball distribution helped Dynamos forwards Ravipal Singh and Rajpal Singh combine well with Deepak Thakur and Prabjot Singh. They created many anxious moments in the rival defence but could not beat the crowded defence. Both Thakur and Prabjot were marked tightly and were denied space to play their free-flowing hockey. Realising this, Dynamos fulcrum Ghazanfar Ali fed more balls to Ravipal and Rajpal and the strategy worked as Dynamos earned nine penalty corners in the match. Dynamos drag flick specialist and former India star Sandeep Singh struggled with his flicks and was unable to launch the power-packed flicks which he is known for. However, from the fifth penalty corner, he sent a waist-high flick to the left of goalkeeper Salman Akbar to post the equalizer in the 52 nd minute.
Shers midfield completely collapsed and they depended more on long hits and fell back in numbers. Though Dilawar Hussain was brilliant in the defence, he got little support from his teammates. Dilawar was also instrumental in making two good clearances off the penalty corner rebounds and once through his dashing run during the set-piece drill.
However, Dynamos' sustained pressure yielded results when Sandeep Singh found the target from the ninth and last penalty corner just three minutes before the hooter.
Inderjit Chadha injected the push and SS Gill set it up perfectly for Sandeep Singh and for once the drag-flick specialist got his moorings right and sent in a powerful flick to the roof of the net to beat Salman Akbar in Shers' goal.
Dynamos' centre-half Ghazanfar Ali was declared as man of the match for his brilliant midfield play.