Hockey: Golden win for Indian Navy
Ajinkya Jadhav's hat-trick propels navymen to 4-1 win over SCR for maiden Bombay Gold Cup title.
Pune lad Ajinkya Jadhav's late brilliance stole the show as Indian Navy (Mumbai) overwhelmed South Central Railway (Secunderabad) 4-1 to lift the 54th All India Bombay Gold Cup hockey title at the MHAL Stadium in Churchgate on Wednesday.
Jadhav, 20, notched up a fine hat-trick as the navymen derailed the railway side, who promised the stars following their stunning 5-2 win over defending champions Indian Oil 24 hours earlier.
On Wednesday too, SCR began with a bang but fizzled out like an ordinary soda. Raju Pal scored the opening goal of the final for SCR in the fifth minute with a reverse hit from the top of the circle (58th minute) was well within the reach of Navy custodian Reydan Tidu but he let it slip.
Fortunately for the navymen, that was the only slip of the day. Man of the tournament at the Hockey India Nationals in Jhansi earlier this year, Jugraj Singh, equalised six minutes later off a penalty corner drag flick to the bottom left of SCR custodian Noor Jillani to make it all square at the end of the first quarter.
Jadhav on target
A boring phase of hockey ensued thereafter for the next 30 minutes before Jadhav, the son of a farmer and a product of the State-backed Krida Prabhodhini Academy in Balewadi, stamped his authority on the finale. In the 42nd minute, Jadhav received a pass inside the SCR striking circle and smartly rounded off the 'keeper before scooping the ball home for 2-1. With five minutes left, Jadhav stuck twice more (58th, 60th mins) off identically poached efforts with rebounds falling perfectly for him to hammer the ball home.
Indian Navy's Ajinkya Jadhav
The win saw Navy coach Ajay Kumar complete a hat-trick of titles. He first guided Navy to the Inter-Services title at Kerala in December and then coached the Services team to the all-important National title in Jhansi earlier this year.
On Wenesday, employing the traditional 5-3-2 formation, which is a rare sight in modern hockey, Kumar ensured he packed the centre of the field, thereby cutting off SCR's supply line to their star striker PR Aiyappa, leaving him helpless while Navy forwards Ashis Topno and Pawan Rajbhar flourished upfront. Kumar was obviously proud of his boys. "As many of eight Navy players were in the 16-man Services line-up, so you can say that Indian Navy was the backbone of the National champion team.
Last year, Navy laid three artificial hockey turfs, two in Kerala and one in Mumbai. This title is a result of this improvement in infrastructure," said Kumar, whose team are also the reigning Mumbai Super League champions.
SCR coach Babu Tagore said his boys were overawed by the occasion. "The team looked a bit jaded today but they have played well throughout the tournament considering we were missing two key players in MG Poonacha and Niyaz Rahim. Both got injured during the Willingdon Catholic Gymkhana rink hockey tournament that preceded this competition and were unable to play a single match here. It's a harsh lesson learnt. We won't be playing any rink hockey matches in the run-up to an all India level tournament henceforth," Tagore told mid-day.
Individual prize winners
- Best goalkeeper (Rs 5000): Sushant Tirkey (SCR)
- Best defender (Rs 5000): Jaspal Singh (Indian Navy)
- Best midfielder (Rs 5000): Aaquib Raahim (Indian Navy)
- Best forward (Rs 5000): Ajinkya Jadhav (Indian Navy)
- Sports Journalists Association of Mumbai’s Player of the tournament (Rs 10,000): AC Subramani (Coorg XI)
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