Mumbai, March 1: Pune Strykers, true to their name, struck the death knell for Mumbai Marines in the last quarter, firing three goal to pip their much fancied rivals 7-5 in the opener, which was played in an electrifying atmosphere. The match was anticipated by most of the fans as a renewal of the arch-rivalry between the two cities. Though it was Strykers which finished on top over Marines in the test of nerves, the real winner was the thousands of fans at the spanking-new MHA Mahindra Stadium, and the game of hockey, which was played at an exceptionally fast pace but in a fun-filled atmosphere.
The hero for the Styrkers was penalty-corner specialist, Gurpreet Singh, who bewitched the Marines goalkeeper four times with his classy drag-flick, including three crucial goal out of four which swung the match completely in their favour in a span of 19 minutes – three minutes before the hooter went off. The PC specialists who honed his skills with the Namdharis, now leads the goal tally in the Bridgestone World Series Hockey tournament. Marines’ Joga Singh, who slammed three superb goals was unlucky to end up on the losing side.
The match swung like a pendulum from quarter to quarter. The Strykers had the upper hand in the first quarter after Mario Nicolas Almada put them in the lead with a fine field goal. Then, Gurpreet got into the act with his wristy flick, but only for a brief period. Marines woke up to the rude jolt and responded strongly with four goals to lead 4-3 at half-time. The match was just entering its most exciting phase, and the climax unfolded with Marines adding just one more goal to their tally while Strykers stunned the home crowd with a drammatic outbursts which lasted for 10 minutes and produced three goals.