In the battle of exuberance and experience, while the former can get a head start, it’s the latter that eventually prevails more often than not. And that’s exactly what transpired after 70mins of exciting hockey between Pune Strykers and Sher-e-Punjab in the final of the inaugural World Series Hockey at the MHA-Mahindra Stadium yesterday.
Despite taking the lead, thanks to a near-zero angle slapshot from the young Tyron Pereira in as early as the 4th minute, Pune went down 2-5 to the sheer experience of their opponents.
Field goals from former India players VS Vinaya (6th min), Deepak Thakur (32nd), Prabhjot (47th & 67th mins) and a Harpreet Singh drag flick (57th min) ensured Punjab laid their hands on the glittering trophy besides a prize cheque of a whopping Rs 2 crore.
Pune got their second goal off a drag flick (70th min) from Simrandeep Randhawa and settled for the Rs 1 crore award.
Pune’s assistant coach Rahul Singh admitted it’s been a great learning curve for his young side. “We came into the final as the underdogs, but I’m proud of the way our boys played today,” Singh said.
Punjab coach Rajinder Singh said his boys were deserving winners. “Pune have played well and this match was by no means easy. In the end, the better team won,” he said.
Indeed, the Shers were the best side on paper in the eight-team league, but the tournament’s grueling schedule — 59 matches in 34 days — meant it was a true test for their senior players too.
Thakur and Prabhjot therefore were seen doing minimal running but clinical in their finishes, much in contrast of the Pune lads, who did the hard yards but failed to get the ball into the Punjab goal as often as they would’ve liked.
All in all, the 329 goals across the inaugural WSH and packed stands at the MHA proved that domestic hockey still has a lot to offer despite the bitter in-fighting between the federations.
Sher-E-Punjab were left sore despite winning the inaugural World Series Hockey tournament. Skipper Prabhjot Singh was furious as none of his teammates were given any individual awards, after their convincing 5-2 victory over Pune Strykers in the final at the Mahindra Hockey Stadium, Mumbai yesterday.
“It’s very unfortunate that none of the Punjab players won any individual awards despite winning the tournament so comfortably. This shows open partiality because none of the awards like best young player, best player, etc went to our players.”
Chandigarh Comets’ Gurjinder Singh was named the Most Valuable player, while Lalit Upadhyay of Bhopal Badshahs won the Rookie Player award.
Chennai Cheetah’s Syed Imran Warsi and Comets’ Gurjinder were awarded for scoring the highest number of goals in the tournament. The solitary prize that went in the Punjab dressing room was the award for the best coach, Rajinder Singh.