Out-of-favour Indian striker Shivendra Singh did the star turn for formidable Air India, scoring a fabulous hat-trick to facilitate a confident 3-1 victory over Surjit Singh Memorial hockey champions in the 48th Edition of the Bombay Gold Cup hockey tournament being played at the Mahindra Stadium in Mumbai.
The diminutive forward first struck close to the half-time hooter before doubling the lead early in the second stanza.
Punjab & Sind Bank, who were in fine nick in the recent Surjit hockey tourney, did pull one back through captain and India discard Sarvanjit Singh in the 51st minute. Shivendra did not leave anything to chance, nailing the third goal five minutes later.
The match witnessed frayed tempers in the closing stages as Punjab & Sind Bank players clashed with Air India players – with the PSB captain Sarvanjit being handed out the marching orders.
Air India will now play Bharat Petroleum in the semifinals – the latter rode on a brace from another India discard Tushar Khandker to pip SAIL 3-2 to make the cut.
Meanwhile, star-studded Indian Oil Corporation, who have never won this tournament save for a lone runners-up finish in 2003, humbled Punjab National Bank 2-1 and will face Western Railways in the other semifinal. Olympian Prabhjot Singh and drag-flicker Vokkaliga Raghunath scored for the oilmen.
It may be worth mentioning here that Western Railways ensured the exit of defending champions Army XI.
As many as twelve teams are taking part in this year’s edition.
The inaugural edition of the Mumbai Gold Cup was held in 1995, when Lusitanians SC cornered glory beating Nagpur-based Bhawnagar in the final.
BSF Jalandhar have won the Mumbai Gold Cup on most occasions – eight times, while Railways collectively have bagged this winning trophy seven times.
Punjab Police have won it five times while Indian Airlines have won it four times.
Central Railway, Indian Airlines and Punjab & Sind Bank have been runners-up on most occasions – each finishing second best three times.