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PSB is champion

By Our Sports Reporter


KOLKATA, APRIL 11. Punjab and Sind Bank (PSB) clinched the 109th edition of the Indian Oil-Servo-sponsored Beighton Cup hockey tournament by defeating a dogged Army XI 4-2 in the tie-breaker at the CC & FC ground on Sunday.

This was the third time that the bankmen had triumphed, having attained similar feats in 1999 and 2000, in one of the oldest hockey tournament in the world.

PSB, with its splendid record of reaching eight finals and winning six out of them this season, was the natural choice for the crown but the armymen put up a disciplined resistance delaying the outcome of the contest to the penalties.

The absence of injured gamemaker Baljit Singh Saini appeared to tell on PSB's performance as the team's attack clearly lacked the edge that fetched them the semifinal win against Punjab Police on Saturday. The bankmen's approach looked incoherent at times and this gave Army XI enough scope to scheme its own attacks at will. With captain Cyprin Aind and Sosan Toppo operating positively on either flanks and seasoned Avtar Singh backing up well as the centre half, the Army team was in the thick of action for a greater part of the encounter.

As both the teams tried to play cautious, the first session remained considerably subdued. The chances, even the two penalty corners awards, were quite evenly shared as none of the two sides seemed to pack enough drive to breach the target. Army showed a greater resolve following the change of ends but its finishing remained much below expectations as four penalty corners and at least three clear goalmouth chances were wasted to have the drought of goals stretched to the end of the 85 minutes of regulation and extra-time. The penalty shoot-out was thus enforced to break the deadlock.

Army gained the initial advantage as its specialist custodian P.T. Rao, who replaced the regular goalkeeper Sunny Semoul just before the tie-breaker, stopped the first attempt by PSB's Baljit Singh Chandi. The Army team raced to a 2-1 lead as Suresh Kumar and Jagjit Singh scored successively but there was a quick change of fortunes as Harpreet Singh pushed the third attempt wide while the PSB custodian Maninder Singh blocked Cyprin Aind to clinch the issue for the bankmen. For PSB Mandeep Singh, Davinder Singh, Harpreet Singh and Rajwinder Singh found the mark successfully to make it 4-2. Chandi was named the man-of-the-tournament while PSB received a winner's cheque of Rs. 1,50,000 while Army had to be content with Rs. 75,000.

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