Singh is King against Bhopal Badshahs
Deepak Thakur (2), Hardeep Singh (1) shine in Shers’ 3-2 win
In a match that witnessed many highs, skills and dogged fightbacks, the clash between Sher-E-Punjab and Bhopal Badshahs went right up to the wires, with the visitors winning 3-2 here on Saturday.
Star forward Deepak Thakur chose the right moment to steal the limelight in the inaugural Bridgestone World Series Hockey as he struck two goals in this crucial tie against the Badshahs. Thakur struck the first two goals in the 17th and 46th minutes and team-mate Harpreet Singh posted the third goal as the Shers returned to the top position in the points table after losing their previous two matches.
The man-in-form for the Badhshahs, Sameer Dad, struck the equaliser in the 22nd minute and young sensation Lali Upadhyaya scored the second goal in the 58rd minute. The inspiring Dad came close to equalize three minutes before the hooter in a penalty corner drill, but his short deflection agonizingly hit the post and spun beyond the baseline.
In an evenly contested match, where emotions flew thick, and most of the umpiring decisions were hotly contested, the fate of the match hung on a slender thread till the last seconds. The Punjab team must have heaved a sigh of relief when the match ended.
The Shers led the onslaught throughout the match, attacking through their brilliant trio of Prabhjot Singh, Inderjeet Singh and Deepak Thakur, who troubled the Badshahs relentlessly. Badshahs’ goalkeeper Baljit Singh, defenders Ajay Saroha and Girish Pimple brought out their best to keep their bastion intact initially; Girish in particular twice picked up the ball on the goalline.
Though Olympian Harpal Singh failed to capitalize most of the penalty corners that came the Shers way, his Namdhari colleague and junior international Harpreet made amends with a ground flick.
Shortly after Vinaya failed to trap a cross inside the circle, he set up Thakur for the Shers’ first goal. With an eagle eye, Thakur bounced on to a weak clearance off Vinaya’s shot that put the Shers ahead in the 17th minute.
Skipper Dad lost no time set the Aisbagh Stadium on fire with his never-say-die attitude. His thrust upfront infused life into the defensive Badshahs. He first wrong-footed Harpal Singh before executing his quick forehand, the ball crashing on the top inside roof for the equaliser.
Both teams played out the second and third quarter without giving in to each other. There were fireworks but the scoreboard would not budge.
The credit went to the Shers forwards, Prabhjot and Thakur. The latter deflected a strong forehand of Prabhjot to go up and then Bhopal fought hard without making much on the net. The young Karan Baskaran failed today with the penalty corners and it affected their goals tally in this crucial tie.
Schedule for March 11:
Pune Strykers vs Chandigarh Comets at Pune, 7pm; Mumbai Marines vs Delhi Wizards at MHA Mahindra Stadium, Mumbai, 9pm. Live on Neo Sports & Neo Cricket.