It’s a bit of a surprise that Indian Oil is one of the top domestic hockey sides and yet, they have never won the prestigious Mumbai Gold Cup hockey tournament.
On Sunday evening, they finally got the monkey of their backs, winning their maiden crown getting the better of traditional rivals Air India 5-3 in a pulsating final clash at the Mahindra Stadium in Mumbai.
The 48th edition of the Mumbai Gold Cup will have special memories for Indian Oil players as they had previously managed to make it to the finals only once in 2003 when they lost to Indian Airlines.
But it was Air India, who stole the early thunder, going up 1-0 in the 23rd minute via an Arman Qureshi goal.
Indian drag-flicker V Raghunath, who was released from the national camp to play in the tournament, converted a penalty corner three minutes later to level the issue.
Former international Prabodh Tirkey once again put the airmen ahead, but the joy was short-lived as Indian Oil’s former international striker Deepak Thakur evened the contest close to the first half hooter.
Air India weaved the same pattern, pulling ahead for the third time when in-form India discard Shivendra Singh rattled the Indian Oil cage early in the second half.
The oilmen’s riposte was a stern one as Olympian Prabjot Singh made the scoreline 3-3 a few minutes later.
Indian striker SV Sunil, who missed the 9th Asia Cup owing to an elbow injury, was the cynosure of all eyes – he first put the oilmen ahead for the first time in the match and in no time produced the insurance goal to pave the way for a highly entertaining 5-3 for Indian Oil.
Fittingly, Sunil was named the man of the tournament and received a cheque for Rs 5,000 from newly-appointed chief national coach Terry Walsh at the closing presentation function.
Earlier in the semifinals, Indian Oil pulverised Western Railway 7-1. Vokkaliga Raghunath and Prabhjot Singh scored twice, while SV Sunil, Dharamvir Singh and Roshan Minz rounded off the tally.
Air India pipped Bharat Petroleum 3-2 in the other semifinal. Former international and current national selector Arjun Halappa scored twice for the airmen, while another former international Sameer Dad scored once.
India-discard Hariprasad and Gurpeet Singh scored for Bharat Petroleum.Published 28 Oct 2013, 10:54 IST