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World Series Hockey -- Comets Stryke down Pune


Canadian international Sukhwinder Singh Gabbar converted a penalty stroke in the dying seconds to give hosts Chandigarh Comets an incredible 4-3 come from behind win over Pune Strykers in a sensational ninth round match of the Bridgestone World Series Hockey in the Punjab capital tonight.

It was a game that saw end to end stuff and one which neither side deserved to lose. Pune had a sensational start and raced to a 3-0 lead inside the first seven minutes even before the Chandigarh team could figure out what had hit them. However, the never say die hosts, who enjoyed the greater possession and chances in the first two quarters, hit back twice before the change of ends and then made it 3-3 in the 37th minute.

Both sides turned on the throttle in search of the match winner and there were some great opportunities at both ends and some incredible misses too, especially by Mario Almada of the visiting team. The goalkeepers – Gurpreet Singh and Harjot Singh — also kept their respective sides in the hunt with some super saves though the latter made some critical ones in the closing stages which won him the man of the match award.

Damandeep Singh (field goal), Simrandeep Singh (penalty corner) and Gurpreet Singh (penalty stroke) gave the Strykers a flying start by finding the target in quick succession.  Rehan Butt and Gurjinder Singh (penalty corner) reduced the margin for the Comets before the change of ends and Gabbar made it all square in the 37th minute. He then scored from the spot in the 70th minute after a Pune defender had committed a deliberate sticks foul in the circle to seal up a sensational victory.

The win sees the Comets streak up to second place with 15 points from their fifth win, behind leaders Sher-E-Punjab (19 points). The Strykers, whose morale will be shattered by this defeat, remain in fifth spot with 12 points.

Almada opened up the Chandigarhdefence in the 3rd minute with a diagonal pass to Roshan Minz whose shot was cleverly deflected into the cage by the hardworking Damandeep. Pune went 2-0 in the 6th minute when Simrandeep Singh scored from a penalty corner after an intelligent variation. Pune made it 3-0 a minute later when Gurpreet Singh converted a penalty stroked after Damandeep was brought down by Gurjinder while about to take a shot at goal. Umpire Scott O’Brien had no hesitation in pointing to a dreaded spot.

The turnaround happened when skipper Butt applied the finishing touch at the far post after the inspirational Gabbar had breezed into the circle with a good run from the left in the 33rd minute and passed across the goalmouth. The very next minute Gurjinder scored from his side’s first penalty corner and soon after the change of ends, Ajitesh Roy initiated a move from the right flank. His hit was padded away by Guri but Gabbar spanked the rebound  onto the boards.

Both sides then hunted feverishly for the match winner with Pune having the better chances before the costly blunder cost them the match.

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