After eliminating the hosts of the tournament, Rovers Academy on Friday, Sports Authority of Gujarat (SAG) became the first team to progress into the finals of the 8th Hussain Silver Cup at the Major Dhyanchand Hockey Stadium in Pimpri-Chinchwad, after beating Income Tax Department, Pune (ITDP), on Saturday.
The game was a thriller as it finished 3-3 after the final quarter. SAG were able to win the game on penalty strokes.
ITDP started the game on the front foot and took the lead in the first quarter thanks to an own goal by SAG. Nitin Kumar struck the ball well as the keeper went down to save it. The ball crept through the keeper and stopped in front of the line. In an effort to clear the ball away, the SAG keeper Yash Gondaliya tapped it into his own net.
The first quarter ended with just one goal separating the two sides. SAG finally sprung to life in the second quarter as Akash Shelar equalised. He caught the defence off guard and pounced on a long ball from defence before putting it past the keeper to level the score. ITDP came close to retake the lead from a penalty corner, but Pradeep Mor’s shot hit the post.
ITDP took the lead again in the third quarter of the match after Rahul Sander’s cross took a few deflections and found its way through to Vikram Singh, who then smashed the ball into the top right corner from the inside edge of the penalty area. Their joy was short-lived as just three minutes later, Vaibhav Shah blazed down the right flank and scored a fantastic goal from a very acute angle to restore parity.
Right after the SAG keeper produced a series of fantastic saves, SAG took the lead for the first time in the game, in the fourth quarter. Ruchit Patel smashed the ball into the goal from close range after he was left unmarked by the ITDP defence.
ITDP were incredibly wasteful throughout the game, especially through penalty corners. ITDP won a total of 11 penalty corners, but managed to convert only one of those. But the one they scored was the last penalty corner they won in the final quarter and it levelled the score for the third time. Pradeep Mor was the player who smashed the ball in from the penalty corner to make it 3-3 at the end of the final quarter.
SAG went on to win the tie 3-2 in the penalty shootout.
The second semi-final saw two teams from Mumbai face-off against each other - Mumbai Republicans vs Mumbai Customs. The game experienced heavy rain as soon as it started. The Republicans came really close to scoring the opening goal, but Kushal Meghwal failed to make contact with the ball, as it flew wide off the goal.
Mumbai Customs scored the opening goal on the counter attack, courtesy of Alden D. A quick counter attack caught the Republicans off their toes and before they could react, Customs were in the lead. Game was stopped in Q1 for about 10 minutes because of the heavy rain and water-logged pitch.
The game resumed after the rain stopped. The pitch was still water-logged and both teams tried their best to outclass the other under very tricky circumstances.
The Republicans had another good chance in the second quarter as Shreekrishan C slid in, but failed to make any contact with the ball as it rolled past the face of the goal. Customs were also presented with a few opportunities, but they failed to increase their advantage.
Parity was restored in the third quarter of the game as the Republicans won a penalty corner. The keeper produced a fine save, but Pranit Naik was the first to reach the rebound to make it 1-1 at the end of the third quarter.
The goal that won the game came in the final quarter through , who was present in the right place at the right time to flick the ball into the top right corner of the goal. After missing a good opportunity earlier in the game, Muthanna BK made no mistake in converting this chance to avoid a penalty shootout and more importantly, to propel Mumbai Customs to the final of the 8th Hussain Silver Cup.
Mumbai Customs will now take on Sports Authority Gujarat in the final, while Mumbai Republicans will take on Income Tax Department, Pune for the third place on Sunday.
Sahil Katiyar Sports Authority of Gujarat )
“It feels really good after scoring the goal that won the match. I want to thank coach Dhanraj Pillay. It’s because of his training we’ve learnt how to play hockey and now we managed to reach the final of this tournament.”
Muthanna BK (Mumbai Customs)
“We were a bit overconfident and the rains made it more tricky. I missed an opportunity and that made me more desperate for a goal and I was happy to score the winning goal. Our next opponents are young and quick so we can’t take them lightly and have to play using our experience and we hope to win.”
RESULTS - SEMI-FINALS:
Sports Authority of Gujarat (SAG) 3  (Akash Shelar 20th; 55th; Vaibhav Shah 42nd; Ruchit Patel, Vaibhav Shah, Sahil Katiyar) bt Income Tax Department, Pune 3  (Nitin Kumar 9th; Vikram Singh 38th; Pradeep Mor 60th; Suraj Shahi, Vikram Singh).
Half Time: 1-1
Mumbai Customs 2 (Alden D’Souza 9th; Muthanna B 50th) bt Mumbai Republicans 1 (Pranit Naik 44th).
Half Time: 1-0
3rd place: 02:00 pm: Income Tax Department, Pune v Mumbai Republicans
Final: 03:30 pm: Sports Authority of Gujarat v Mumbai Customs
First Published: Jul 07, 2019 14:37 IST