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World Series Hockey -- Merry Mariners climb to the top

1.22K   //    08 Mar 2012, 22:57 IST


Mumbai Marines fought back to beard the Karnataka Lions in their own den by a 2-1 margin and climb to the top of the Bridgestone World Series Hockey in a fifth round match played at the Karnataka State Hockey Stadium in Bengaluru tonight.

The lethal Len Aiyappa crashed the ball into the net in the 18th minute from the Lions’ first penalty corner award, giving Mumbai goalkeeper Adrian D’Souza not a whiff of a chance.

Long haired Devinder Walmiki, a rising star, reduced the margin the 42nd minute from Mumbai’s second penalty corner award with a cracker of a flick, his second goal in the championship. Joga Singh scored the match winner in the 58th minute to help the visitors amass 9 points from their third win and zoom to the top while the locals remain in the basement with only one win and four losses.

Goalkeepers are having a field day in the tournament, as much as the drag flickers, and both Karnataka goalkeeper Jagdeep Dayal and his counterpart D’Souza kept their respective sides in the hunt with several saves. Karnataka, who looked a bit dispirited in the last quarter, however had several chances to score in the dying minutes and tie the match but failed to take them.

There is nothing spectacular about the Karnataka play; they lack the firepower that some of the other fancied sides possess. But in the last couple of games, the side coached by 1994 World Cup captain Jude Felix have become more methodical and play to a plan. In young Arjun Antil, Jarnail Singh and Ravipal Singh on the left flank, Karnataka also have young guns who can give them the thrust. But they failed to profit from the ‘home advantage’.

The game was a rather desultory affair for the most part with the Mariners enjoying a slight edge all through but not enough to take the match by the scruff of its neck. Dhanraj Pillay again led the locals in the absence of Arjun Halappa who has collected a shoulder injury. He pulled his weight on the pitch, literally speaking, and was twice denied by D’Souza.

Mumbai’s danger man Troy Sutherland was well shackled but he was also off colour today. He did manage a good shot in the 20th minute which was well stopped by Dayal. Joga’s  enterprise too was not conspicuous as it has been in earlier matches, depriving the Mumbai attack of its bite. He was guilty of blasting at least a couple of shots wide after getting into good striking positions. But he made amends when he powered past Aiyappa from the left and sounded the boards by putting it past Dayal at the near post in the 57th minute. The Coorgi made quite a few errors after half time and Felix should have perhaps played safe and taken him off the pitch.

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Mario Rodrigues is a senior sports journalist and football & hockey writer. He is the author of the acclaimed biography of Ranjitsinhji titled ‘Batting for the Empire’.
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