Warsi stars in Cheetahs’ action flick
Pakistani drag-flicker scores thrice in 5-3 win over Comets
A brilliant show by drag-flick specialist Syed Imran Warsi of Pakistan helped Chennai Cheetahs to post an emphatic 5-3 victory over Chandigarh Comets in the Bridgestone World Series Hockey at the Sector 42 Stadium here on Saturday.
Two quick goals, early in the first quarter, helped Chennai Cheetahs to dominate the proceedings with better ball possession and they added a third goal in the second quarter to take 3-0 lead with Warsi converting his second short corner. But the Chandigarh Comets came back quickly to pull one back and only a brilliant goalline save by Vikram Pillay seconds before half-time prevented them from being at a striking distance.
Imran Warsi opened the account for Chennai Cheetahs, converting the
first set-piece of the match with his trademark drag-flick. He sent in
a powerful one to the right hand top corner of the net which brooked
no answer from the goalkeeper in the 8th minute.
With playmaker Vikram Pillay being the livewire in the midfield,
feeding passes to Brent Livermore, Mark Harris and Adam Sinclair,
Cheetas were literally on a prowl creating havoc in the rival defence.
One such move within two minutes of the first goal, saw Harris dribble
his magic on the backline. He moved in from the left flag menacingly
towards the post and a quick flick-in saw Adam Sinclair lurking at the
far post and a first time tap, at knee-height, caught the goalkeeper
stranded. (2-0; 10th min).
With Chandigarh Comets struggling to get back into the game, Chennai
nailed one more goal in the 7th minute of the second quarter earning
their second short corner of the match. It was Warsi once again who
sent a stunning flick low into the boards, to the right of goalkeeper
Swinder Sijngh. (3-0; 24th min)
However, Chandigarh Comets with Pakistan star Rehan Butt coming into
his own made a swift counter attack with Ranjodh Singh receiving a
long cross from the midfield. He dribbled towards the top of the
circle and from near the dotted line, he turned around and unleashed a
fierce reverse hit which was deftly deflected by Ramandeep Singh into
the goal from close quarters. (1-3; 28th min).
Buoyed by the goal, Comets increased the tempo but conceded another
corner to a counter attack. But with Chennai’s Warsi sitting on the
bench, Chandigarh Comets not only managed to save it but earned their
own short corner in the last minute before half time. But Vikram
Pillay’s brilliant goalline save denied them a goal which at that
stage would have completely changed the complexion of the match. But
that was not to be as Chennai relaxed with a 3-1 half-time score.
Comets continued their chase and made forays into the rival half in
the third quarter and were rewarded with a goal in the very third
minute to make it 2-3 when a powerful reverse hit by Ranjodh Singh was
saved by Chennai goalkeeper Jasbir Singh but an alert Rehan Butt
converted the rebound without any fuss. (2-3; 38th min)
But the Chandigarh Comets’ joy was short-lived as Cheetahs came back
within two minutes to make it 4-2 (40th min) once again through
another penalty corner goal by Imran Warsi, which made him the top
goalscorer with five goals thus far in the tournament.
Later in the last quarter, Chennai trying to defend in numbers made a
crucial mispass in their own half which led to a fast counter attack
and a short corner that saw Sukwinder Singh `Gabbar’ send a shooting
grounder to the left of the goalkeeper and the match suddenly opened
up once again. (4-3; 64th min). However, Chennai Cheetas did not allow
any further damage closing the game with a stunning move from the left
flank which saw Harris find the ball and he moved into the circle with
only goalkeeper to dodge. He did that with ease, opened up the angle
and converted a sitter for a 5-3 victory in the 66th minute.