Army XI to meet Air India in Guru Tegh hockey final

Mumbai: Defending champions Army XI and former champions Air India reached the final of the 11th PMC Bank-Guru Tegh Bahadur Gold Cup All India Hockey Tournament here by defeating respective rivals Central Railway and ONGC in the semi finals today.

Both finalists needed the penalty shoot-out to reach tomorrow's summit clash after the scores were identically level 1-1 at the end of regulation time.

While Bengaluru-based Army XI edged out local outfit Central 3-1 by winning the tie break 2-0, 2008 champions AI and ONGC fought a prolonged battle in the shoot-out which was finally decided 6-5 in favour of the winners in sudden death for an overall 7-6 winning aggregate score.

A B Cheeyanna (2 goals), Joga Singh (2) and Sumit Toppo (2) were successful in the shoot-out for AI while drag-flicker and ex-international Diwakar Ram (2), Sumit Kumar (1), international Gurvinder Singh Chandi (1) and Jagwant Singh (1) scored the goals in the tie break for ONGC.

Olympian Adrian D'Souza stole the show for AI with his alert show under the bar and not only foiled ONGC on a few occasions in regular time but also shone in the shoot-out. He crucially stopped Chandi before Joga Singh outwitted ONGC's custodian Kamaldeep Singh for the winning goal.

Earlier, Joga gave AI the lead in regular time in the 44th minute with a reverse hit after being fed by Pawan Kumar before ONGC equalised through Mandeep Antil ten minutes later with an angular shot from the right.

In the other semi final which saw better quality hockey, the score sheet remained blank till the end of half time.

After the change of ends Mohd Nizam scored a peach of a goal with a reverse hit from an acute angle on the left, following a solo foray into the 'D' from the 25-yard-line, to put Central 1-0 up.

But the army team fought back with the equaliser four minutes later when Binay Bhengra scored through the rival custodian's legs from the right.

In the shoot-out Central players flopped badly by muffing all four attempts while Army XI, after squandering their first two tries, succeeded with the last two through Bhengra, his second goal of the game, and Biraj Ekka.

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