- Pune Strykers stun leaders Sher-E-Punjab 3-2
- Bikramjit Singh (6th min) and Gagan Ajit Singh (63rd min) score for the Shers
- Vikas Pillay (12th min) and Gurpreet Singh (29th & 31st mins) score for the Strykers
The see-saw battle continues in the inaugural Bridgestone World Series Hockey as Pune Strykers stunned table toppers, Sher-E-Punjab, 3-2 here on Tuesday. The win allowed the Strykers a re-entry into the top-four in the league but they may have to settle for the fifth place depending on the oscillation in the Badshahs-Lions tie, the other match of the day.
For a team that impressed in the first round but slipped to mediocrity, the 3-2 win against the title favourites today will no doubt boost their side tremendously though their fans may fear that the wake-up call has come a bit too late. However, in tune with the latest trend in the league of the losing team striking first before losing steam continued here. Shers’ young star Bikramjit Singh stunned the home crowd, converting the first penalty corner to post the first goal of the match, but the Strykers came back strongly with some exhilarating display of grit and skill.
Livewire Vikas Pillay, who moments before had missed a sitter set up by Argentine import Mario Almada, was accurate in his penalty stroke to get the equalizer. The stroke was awarded after PC expert Gurpreet Singh’s drag flick hit Mathew Hotchkis on the right leg. The hosts could have added another before the end of the first quarter but the goal was disallowed after a video referral. Almada had bounced on to a rebound to strike the ball into the goal but the video referral turned it down on the ground that Almada’s push had struck the foot of team-mate Roshan Minz before crossing the goal line.
But a rival’s leg came to the rescue of the Strykers shortly. Gurpreet Singh’s next penalty corner hit Shers’ Prabhdeep Singh Powar on his left leg and got deflected into the net. A couple of minutes later, Gurpreet Singh struck a gem of a PC conversion to put the Strykers ahead 3-1.
Unlike the second quarter which in every sense belonged to the Strykers, the second half witnessed a sea-change in the Shers’ approach. They came all out and earned half-a-dozen penalty corners, but the Shers were stonewalled by the Strykers’ goalkeeper and his band of defenders. Gagan Ajit Singh then reduced the margin with just seven minutes left for the hooter. Strykers’ Gurpreet Singh, instead of negotiating on his own which proved his team’s undoing in the second session, mispassed to Gagan on the circle line. The opportunistic Sher stryker pounced on the chance and aimed right into the right corner of the net where it landed after hitting Vikas Pillay’s stick. The favourites had a golden chance to equalise after bagging a PC seconds before the hooter but they lacked precision, and the Strykers managed to surivive those tense moments.
Goal Scorers for Pune Strykers:
Vikas Pillay 12′ (PS)
Gurpreet Singh 29′ (PC)
Gurpreet Singh 31′ (PC)
Goal Scorers for Sher-e-Punjab:
Bikramjit Singh 6′ (PC)
Gagan Ajit Singh 63′ (PC)
Credits: World Series Hockey