Steady PNB ground champs Air India

Mumbai : Punjab National Bank (PNB), Delhi dished out a steady performance to sent defending champions Air India, Delhi packing out in the semi-final round of the 12th PMC Bank-Guru Tegh Bahadur All India Gold Cup Hockey Championship, organized by MHAL (Mumbai Hockey Association Limited) and played at the MHAL-Mahindra Stadium, Churchgate on Thursday.

Satender Dalal opened the scoring for PNB in the 11th minute before prolific scorer Gagandeep Singh managed to double the lead in the 59th minute and seal the win.

The experienced Air India outfit boasting of former Indian stalwarts skipper Shivendra Singh, Sameer Dad, Arjun Halappa, Vikram Pillay, Birendra Lakra, Girish Pimple and goalkeeper Adrian D’Souza were totally a disjointed lot and were far from impressive. They lacked coordination and understanding and struggled to penetrate deep into the rival territory and create goal-scoring opportunities.

The PNB defence was compact and defended resolutely. Defenders Satpal Singh, Ravinder Tewatia, Rajwinder Singh and Sanjay were rock solid and rallied well to keep the Air India attackers in check and not provide them many opportunities to have attempts at goal.

In contrast PNB did not do anything exceptional but showed better understanding and had more attempts at goal. However, they were restricted to just two goals as Air India custodian Adrian D’Souza made a couple of fine saves.

Air India were unable to get back into the match and to make matters worse, they were also guilty of wasting quite a few simple chances, with veteran Sameer Dad missing from close.

The Punjab side finally managed to add the second goal when Gagandeep Singh managed to score from a second attempt after he fumbled with his earlier try from close.

That goal knocked the fight out Air India and ensured PNB’s place in the Friday’s final to be played at 5.30 pm.

Semi-final results: Punjab National Bank 2 (Satendra Dalal 11th, Gagandeep Singh 59th) beat Air India, Delhi 0.

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