Pune: Defending champion Air India opened its campaign in style beating Odisha 5-2 in the Pool A league match on the opening day of the 5th Hockey India Senior Men’s National Hockey championship for ‘A’ Division at the Balewadi Hockey Ground here on Thursday.
Packed with former India players, Air India gave no chance to Odisha to dictate terms for most part of the match, but for slight lapse of concentration midway through when Odisha suddenly leveled the scores after being 0-2 down.
Arman Qureshi had scored in the 10th minute to give Air India the opening goal before former India player Shivendra Singh scored a neat field goal to put his team 2-0 up.
Air India seemingly retreated after taking the lead allowing Odisha to claw back into the game for a while. Rajin Kandulna scored in the 29th minute to reduce the margin just before the stoke of half-time and Deepak Lugun scored soon after the re-start to even the scores in the 32nd minute.
Air India woke up from their slumber through Arjun Halappa’s 43rd minute penalty stroke before Gaganpreet Singh made a penalty corner conversion to give Air India 4-2 lead.
Vikas Vishnu Pillay scored three minutes from close as Air India earned the bragging rights with a comprehensive victory.
In the same Pool A, the Sports Authority of India (SAI) drew with Madhya Pradesh Hockey Academy 2-2 with Basavraj (48th and Manpreet (55th) scoring for SAI. Vikas Choudary scored a brace for MP Hockey Academy in the third quarter, the goals coming in the space of four minute.
CAG, Jharkhand win in Pool B
The Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG), the runners-up at the last Nationals to Air India, scored a scrappy 2-1 win against Indian Universities in a Pool B league match.
Mohammed Naeemuddin and Nitin Thimmiah scored in the fifth and 48th minutes in a match that saw more defensive play. Indian Universities had equalized through Harsahib Singh in the 37th minute, but struggled to find yet another opening later on.
Air India 5 (Arman Qureshi 10th, Shivendra Singh 12th, Arjun Halappa 43rd, Gaganpreet Singh 52nd, Vikas Vishnu Pillay 57th) beat Odisha 2 (Rajin Kandulna 29th, Deepak Lugun 32nd). HT: 2-1.
SAI 2 (Basavraj 48th, Manpreet 55th) drew with MP Hockey Academy 2 (Vikas Choudary 44th, 48th). HT: 0-0.
CAG of India 2 (Mohammed Naeemuddin 5th, Nitin Thimmiah 48th) beat Indian Universities 1 (Harsahib Singh 37th). HT: 1-0.
Jharkhand 4 (Anup Topno 2nd, 14th, Noyel Dodrai 26th, Mahesh Kumar 40th) beat Bhopal 2 (M Shadaab Haseeb 59th, Qsaf-Ur-Rahman 60th). HT: 3-0.
Uttar Pradesh 5 () beat Services 1 (). HT:
Friday’s fixtures at National ‘A’ Hockey championship:
Pool D: Railways v Punjab (7.30 am)
Pool D: Karnataka v FCI (9 am)
Pool A: SAI v Air India (2 pm)
Pool A: Andhra Pradesh v Odisha (3.30 pm)
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