The 48th All India Bombay Gold Cup Hockey tournament’s quarter-final between Air India and Punjab and Sindh Bank (PSB) turned ugly yesterday with players from both sides trading blows and swinging hockey sticks at each other at the MHA-Mahindra Stadium.
The trouble started in the 67th minute when the airmen were leading 3-1 courtesy a hat-trick from Shivendra Singh. PSB captain Sarvanjit Singh, who had earlier scored a goal, charged into an Air India player without provocation.
He was joined by teammate Karamjit Singh and before the officials could intervene, the situation escalated with players of both teams engaging in verbal and physical assault. Umpire Harsha Vardhan showed Sarvanjit a yellow card for his misbehaviour, but the player still went ahead and hit Air India goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh with his stick. Gurpreet, who had entered the melee to protect his teammates, then hit back.
Finally, Air India coach Dhanraj Pillay intervened to calm things down. Later, umpire Harsha red-carded three players — Sarvanjit, Karamjit and Gurpreet. Thankfully, no player suffered any major injury. “Such things should not happen. Already, there are so many issues hampering the growth of hockey in India. Both teams were at fault today. Players, in a fit of rage, don’t realise what they’re doing,” said Pillay.