New Delhi, March 3: Penalty corner expert Gurpreet Singh’s last gasp conversions spoilt the host Delhi Wizards party in the third and last match on Day four of the Bridgestone World Series Hockey here in Delhi on Saturday. The Pune Strykers won 3-1.
Gurpreet converted a penalty corner in the dying moments of third quarter and then pushed a penalty stroke ball to the left corner of the net to enable Pune overcome both the fighting Delhi Wizards and also huge partisan support they had on the stands.
Earlier, Philip Sunkel’s 26th minute deflection helped Delhi to cancel out Mario Almada’s 12th minute stunner. Delhi Wizards and Pune Strykers, who won their first match on Friday, faced each other against huge Delhi crowd in the historic Major Dhyan Chand National stadium on Saturday.
Expectedly, the confident teams produced an electric hockey like of which is fast becoming order of the day in the Bridgestone World Series Hockey. A faulty and panicky clearance inside the circle was grabbed by the Pune Strykers to go up early.
International star Bikas Toppo dribbled past a host of defenders to the baseline, and passed it upfront to the waiting forwards. A Delhi defender came quick and intercepted, but let the ball bounce and trickle towards the cage. Even as the panicky defender was demanding an infringement and lost focus, Argentina’s legend Mario Almada retrieved the ball, whacked it to the net in fraction of a second (1-0). Almada was fittingly declared the Man of the Match.
The beauty of the 12th minute electric goal was such that the Delhi fans jumped in joy and celebrated with bhangra, momentarily forgetting the fact the goal was struck against their team!
Rajpal Singh, Vikaram Kant and Philip Ankel worked in tandem to reply in style. It was a copy book triangle move. Wily winger Rajpal stole the ball in the 25-yard area, took to the top of D very fast, passed to waiting Vikaram Kant. The international star sent a strong diagonal pass towards the cage, where Ankel lunged forward to put the stick to deflect the flight. The ball crashed into the net to the right of goalie (1-1). The clock that time read 26th minute.
The same alert forward however wasted a great feed by Shakeel Abbasi in the 66th minute. He dived and connected timely in the circle, but the flight was miscued to miss the empty goal, and agonizingly went out.
There were no goals in second and third quarters, despite plenty of penalty corners, counter attacks and fast and furious hockey marking the phase. Gurpreet struck his first goal in the dying moments of third quarter, off the team’s sixth penalty corner (53rd min, 2-1). This goal took the steam out of otherwise equally competent Delhi outfit.
Gurpreet scored his second, and overall his sixth, goal in the 60th minute. Pune earned a stroke against the run of the play. The burly youngster placed the ball to the left corner of the net (3-1) to take away the match from the host.
Goal Scorers for Delhi Wizards:
Philip Sunkel 26′ (FG)
Goal Scorers for Pune Strykers:
Mario Almada 5′ (FG)
Gurpreet Singh 53′ (PC)
Gurpreet Singh 59′ (PS)