Badshahs rule as Wizards magic wanes
Laxman Baskaran, AB Cheeyanna shine in 2-1 win
In a thrilling contest, Bhopal Badshahs outmaneouvred Delhi Wizards 2-1 to take the top position in the inaugural Bridgestone World Series Hockey here on Friday. Earlier before this match, Pune Strykers and Mumbai Marine were occupying the top-2 position respectively, but the Badshahs just flew over them in the points tally with a fine victory in the 20th match of the tournament, the last match of the day.
Some stars never tire or let their energy fade with age. Sameer Dad of Bhopal Badshahs proved so authoritatively when he set up youngsters for goals on umpteenth occasions in 70 minutes of play, and was the main catalyst of his team’s thrilling win over the hugely talented but increasingly less opportunistic Delhi Wizards.
The match started on a breathtaking pace. Badshahs went up when Dad fetched a penalty corner against the run of play and let others to do the rest. Young gun Laxman Baskaran made his Olympian father and coach of his team, Vasudevan Baskaran, proud with his deadly grounder (14th minute. Wizards goalkeeper Kamaldeep Singh spotted the flight of that blinder, but the sheer power was too much for him to stop the ball from its intended destination.
Delhi replied in style in the next quarter. Bikramjeet Singh, who shot wide his attempt in the first penalty corner, flicked the ball so high that it crashed into the inside roof top (33rd minute) when he got another chance to showcase his ware.
Dad missed some easy chances, but made amends when he selflessly parted the ball to mate AB Cheeyanna, who had to merely tap the ball inside the goal, with the goalkeeper sprawled in front as the crowd came to its feet in the 49th minute.
In the third quarter, when the team played with a player less on account of yellow card suspension, Pakistani star Shakeel Abassi put Manoj Antil with gem of a feed, but the youngster fumbled in the D. The Wizards squandered many such lovely chances. Abbasi stole the ball when Badshahs failed to stop cleanly during their third penalty corner drill only to see Rajpal Singh miscuing his reverse shot. Delhi missed several sitters of this nature to gift the match to Badshahs. Dad was deservingly, declared the man-of-the-match.