Comets book their berth for semifinal
- Chandigarh Comets beat Mumbai Marines 4-3 in a thriller
- Ramandeep Singh, Gurjinder Singh, Amir Khan and Robert Green score for the hosts
- Troy Sutherland, Vanmali Xess and Ajmer Singh strike one each for the Marines
The smile on Chandigarh Comets’ head coach Harendra Singh said it all. Comets had launched their campaign in the inaugural edition of the Bridgestone World Series Hockey with a defeat to Bhopal Badshahs at the same venue almost a month back, but today they became the second team in the league to be guaranteed a place in the semifinals.
In a humdinger here at the Sector 42 Hockey Stadium on Wednesday, Comets beat Mumbai Marines 4-3. For the first time, Sher-E-Punjab find themselves a team hot on their heels, Comets, who are just behind them on goal average but with equal points (25 from 13 Matchs) . They will be cautious in their last league match, which could decide whom they meet in the semis.
Comets, known for striking early goals to put their rivals on the backfoot and then dictating the course of match, deployed the same strategy against the Marines with initial success but the visitors came bavk strongly to neutralise their three-goal lead, but Robert Green struck the winner from what appeared to be an abortive penalty corner a minute before the hooter, to give the Comets a famous victory and full points.
Winger Ramandeep Singh turned full to tap in a cross from the right flank as early as three minutes to give the Comets a dream start. Thereafter, Devinder Walmiki, with his brlliant interceptions, came in their way to deny them any further leeway.
Penalty-corner expert Gurjinder Singh, who failed in the first three against Walmiki’s athleticism and anticipation, sent his low drag to the left netting in his fourth attempt to enhance the lead.
The Marines forwards came charging in the second quarter, and penetrated Comets’ territory with vengeance, but the fitter and faster hosts overcrowded them to deny any elbow room. Comets replied every Marines’ surge with a matching, if not more, aggressive counter attack, often coming close to scoring. Sharp-shooter Amir Khan fittingly deflected an Adrian D’Souza’s rebound to post what at that juncture appeared an assailable 3-0 lead.
The Marines gave an early hint of their intention with a goal in the dying seconds of the lemon time. One of the young finds of the WSH, Vanmali Xess cut a high feed that came his way in the middle of the circle, and then as the ball was falling, he whacked it high to bring life into the contest.
The sharp and shrewd Troy Sutherland reduced the scoreline when in a quick reflex action, he picked up a fast-moving ball that came after a fellow forward unsuccessfully tried to control a high ball, and cut its direction and velocity, to bang in the middle of the net. Sutherland’s superb goal set the pace with each side leaving no stone unturned to test the goal.
Marines, who missed three penalty corners, used the fourth one to finally bring parity. In the indirect penalty corner drill, Sutherland scooped the ball from close quarter, and it hit Gurjinder Singh’s right leg which was overlooked by umpire Savio but the Comets got it right through referral. Ajmer Singh had no difficulty in striking the ball home. The remaining 15 minutes witnessed brilliant hockey from both sides. Green then came on gamely to provide the spark that the Comets needed to script another great win.
Schedule for March 29:
Chandigarh Comets vs Karnataka Lions in Chandigarh at 7pm; Bhopal Badshahs vs Pune Strykers in Bhopal at 9pm. Live on Neo Cricket & Neo Sports.