Nikkin Thimmaiah stars in Strykers 4-2 win
- Youngster fires two goals in three minutes as Pune Strykers beat Mumbai Marines 4-2
- Gurpreet Singh (28 min), Mario Almada (34th min), Nikkin Thimmiah (43rd & 45th mins) score for Strykers
- Banmali Xess (15th min) and Aijub Ekka (27th min) score for Marines
The inaugural Bridgestone World Series Hockey has witnessed the emergence of many new stars in the past three weeks when the ball started rolling. This time, it was the young talented forward from Pune Strykers, Nikkin Thimmiah, who took the centrestage in the match against neighbours Mumbai Marines here on Friday. Thimmiah fired two scintillating goals in the space of three minutes to turn the match in Pune’s favour after it was tantalizingly poised at 2-2, for a heartwarming 4-2 win for the hosts.
Colts Banmali Xess and Aijub Ekka, working hard upfront, grabbed half chances that came their way to account for the both goals that Marines scored in the pulsating match. But Gurpeet Singh and Mario Almada restored parity in the second quarter, leaving Nikkin to showcase his skills for a fluent win.
Both teams, who have lost their previous two encounters, and were thus in dire need of a morale-boosting wins, started their rescue mission cautiously, content in probing in each other’s territory. After full-back Ajmir Singh blunted many a Strykers attack, Banmali Xess’ opportunism titled the scales in favour of the Marines at the end of first quarter. Standing close to goalie, he turned a bit before deflecting a freewheeling hit-in that rose high and found the left top corner of the net.
Caution was thrown to winds when the team returned for the second quarter, proved by the fact this part of the game produced three fantastic goals to share four goals at half-time. Troy Sutherland from top of the circle sent a reverse hand, Aijub Ekka intercepted its trajectory to deflect it to the right of the goalie for Marines’ second goal. Pepped by the sizeable vocal home stands, Strykers launched their moves upfront, and staged a dream comeback within a short time.
Gurpreet Singh struck from the first penalty corner. His drag hit Clyde Abraham’s stick on the right end of the cage, took a ugly inward turn towards the other end of the cage, and landed inside. Five minutes later, Roshan Minz pouncd on a loose ball and promptly passed it to Mario Almada, waiting in the circle on the right. The Argentinean marvel couched low to send a diagonal grounder that landed the end of the other side.
With amazing sprints and scoring acumen, Thimmaiah stole the limelight in the third quarter, which proved decisive for the Strykers. He struck twice against the hapless Marines goalkeeper-cum captain Adrian D’Souza, who did not get enough cover from his defence.
Firstly, Adrian committed early and left the cage empty for Thimmaiah to punch in a melee while in a split second the Strykers forward surged from top of the D to effect an acute grounder that wrecked the entire Marines. The visitors, lacking in precision, wasted both penalty corners due to bad stops, and then Bimal Lakra took some good shots at the goal.
Schedule for March 24:
Bhopal Badshahs vs Chandigarh Comets at Bhopal, 7pm; Karnataka Lions vs Delhi Wizards at Bengalur; 9pm. Live on Neo Sports.