Ravi Pal feasts as Lions go hunting
Youngsters’ brace guides Karnataka to 5-3 win over Chennai Cheetahs
In a major upset, Karnataka Lions trounced favourites Chennai Cheetahs 5-3 in their crucial match in the inaugural Bridgestone World Series Hockey here on Saturday. Skipper Ravi Pal assumed a dual role of playmaker and striker to resurrect the fortune of the otherwise struggling Lions.
Ravi Pal struck the first goal and consolidated his team by scoring the fourth one in addition to setting up colt Vinayak Bijwad for a brace in between. Team-mate Deepak Kumar added one more, three minutes before the hooter, to bring the Lions back into the limelight.
The star from traditional hockey bastion, Sansarpur in Punjab, Ravi Pal, exhibited artistic and athletic hockey. The talented youngster was able to showcase his talent to a wider audience on Saturday, thanks to the Bridgestone WSH. His fourth goal was easily the best effort in the match as Ravi Pal struck a solo goal, beating three Cheetahs defenders to score from the right.
On the other hand, the Cheetahs worked on penalty corners, hoping to ride on Pakistani drag-flicker Syed Imran Warsi’s prowess, but the strategy misfired. The hosts were able to convert only three out of nine PC awarded and the goals came probably too late in the match.
The first goal from the Lions was a result of team work. Vinayak Bijwad supplied the ball to Ravi Pal on the D, who charged into the circle and unleashed a strong forehand shot from right that smashed the back net to the utter shock of the home crowd in the 26th minute. Six minutes later, the same duo mesmerized Chennai defence once more. Three defenders attempted in vain to stop Ravi Pal on the right baseline only to see the wily forward sneak a gentle cross which Jasbir Singh spotted, but Vinayak spotted the ball ticking and put the stick on it on the run to douse whatever fire the Chennai had till then.
Earlier, Chennai was definitely unlucky to see the umpire not endorse an Imran Warsi conversion, due to an inexplicable obstruction of charger by stopper Vikram Pillay. The Cheetahs’ strategy to depend mainly on penalty-corners to win matches was evident to all, and they spent all their energy in creating PCs. It was probably unfair to expect Warsi, who is leading the race for the ‘Golden Stick’, to fire all the time for them.
Soon after Vikas Sharma made a goaline save, Vinayak deflected a forehand from his captain from right side of the circle to bring up the third goal. Then Ravi Pal scored the best solo of the tournament when he beat on speed three defenders to score from right (4-2) and then set up Deepak added one more to make it 5-2 for the Lions. Warsi’s goal from a penalty-corner after hooter proved was just a formality for the record-book.
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.