It’s Punjabi tadka over Mumbai bhelpuri
- Star striker Deepak Thakur’s brace ensures Sher-E-Punjab’s 3-2 win
- Local boy Devender Walmiki and Joga Singh strike for Marines
This was sizzling hockey at its best – Sher-E-Punjab are known for their attacking hockey while rivals Mumbai Marines are reputed to be one of the toughest team in the Bridgestone World Series Hockey with a very disciplined outfit. Their tie was expected to be a high-voltage clash, and the jam-packed MHA Mahindra Stadium wasn’t disappointed with the fast-paced fare dished out by both teams, though in the end the visitors, Sher-E-Punjab finally won 3-2.
The crowd was stunned as Sher-e-Punjab’s Pakistani import Tariq Aziz struck in the very first minute even before they had settled in their seats. The Shers began in an aggressive manner and the very first move from the left flank brought dividend as the ball came off a defender stick in a goalmouth melee, and the unmarked Aziz pushed the ball into the net for a sensational start. Star striker Deepak Thakur struck twice in the last quarter to seal the match for the Shers. Though, Joga Singh, the livewire for the Marines today, struck the equalizer in the 12th minute and talented youngster Devender Walmiki converted his penalty corner just two minutes before the hooter, the match was over by then for the hosts.
The Shers continued to put pressure upfront and had more possession and circle penetrations in the first quarter but the Marines hung on and brought in a surprise equalizer in the 12the minute through Joga Singh, who trapped a long hit into the circle and in a quick move stunned the Sher goalkeeper with his equalizer.
Thereafter, both the teams played their hearts out and slowly Marines came back into the match with more possession. If Shers had more circle penetrations in the first quarter, Marines came back and dominated the play in the third quarter with more attacking moves but the both the second and quarters proved goalless.
However, both the teams dished out thrilling and exciting hockey in the last quarter which produced three goals. Deepak Thakur managed to stretch his stick after the goalkeeper was beaten in a penalty corner to make it 2-1 in the 56the minute and increased the lead with another exotic goal in the 63rd minute which saw two Marines defenders fumble at the all-important end.
When everyone though the match was over, Marines struck back with a penalty corner conversion in the 68th minute when Walmiki sent in a zooming shot past the goalkeeper after Sandeep Michael executed a perfect push. Marines made an all-out attempt with an immediate circle penetration but Shers defended in numbers and maintained their lead till the end.
Deepak Thakur was the toast of the day winning the Man of the Match award for his two goals.
Schedule for March 15:
Pune Strykers vs Chennai Cheetahs at Pune, 7pm; Delhi Wizards vs Bhopal Badshahs at Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium; 9pm. Live on Neo Sports and Neo Cricket.