Air India pip IOC 4-3 to clinch Obaidullah Gold Cup hockey title
Last year’s runners-up Air India (AI) exacted sweet revenge by overcoming reigning champions Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) to clinch the Obaidullah Khan Gold Cup International hockey tournament title in Bhopal.
Air India came out with all guns blazing from the word go, and took the lead in the seventh minute through Olympian and India discard Shivendra Singh.
The Airmen doubled the lead in the 24th minute through another India discard Arjun Halappa.
Drag-flicker Gurjinder Singh brought IOC into the contest in the 28h minute as Air India held a 2-1 lead going into half-time.
Shivendra struck again from a penalty corner for the Air India in the second half to provide a two-goal cushion to his side.
IOC kept their hopes alive when Gurjinder scored his second goal to keep the match interestingly poised at 2-3
Air India went 4-2 up when Halappa found his name on the score sheet for the second time in the 59th minute.
IOC went for the jugular in pursuit of leveling the scores, and their persistence paid off when Gurjinder completed a superb hat-trick six minutes from the final hooter, but his effort went in vain as Air India kept IOC at bay for the remaining period of play and emerged triumphant, denying their opponents the opportunity of defending their crown.
Punjab and Sindh Bank put it across ONGC 3-2 to finish third.
The winners pocketed a cash prize of Rs 21 lakh and a trophy, while the runners-up team took home a cash award of Rs 10 lakh.
Air India’s Shivendra was fittingly named man-of-the-match, while IOC’s talented Gurjinder was declared man-of-the-tournament.
Earlier in the semifinals, Air India rode on a four-goal blitz from Vikram Pillay to larrup ONGC 7-0, while IOC sneaked past Punjab and Sindh Bank 3-2.
The tournament featured two teams from New Zealand and Malaysia.