A seemingly innocuous rule ensured that the first match of the Maharaja Jiwaji Rao Scindia Gold Cup at the Jaipur Polo Grounds on Wednesday ended up being a nerve-jangling battle of attrition. The tense affair saw saw Jindal Steel & Power edge out valiant Panasonic 6-5 via golden goal in the sixth chukkar two more than what the two teams were scheduled to play.
Each league match shall be played for a result, the rule said,but not many paid heed to it,as Team Jindal,leading 5-2 at the start last regulation-time chukkar,were cruising under a lazy afternoon sun.
But as shadows grew longer and breeze picked up,Panasonic found a second wind in the form of a deft chip by Irishman Niall M Donelly that reduced the deficit. As they tried to defend hard,Jindal committed fouls resulting in consecutive 40-yard penalties for Panasonic. Manupal Godara at +4,their highest handicapped player calmly converted both (the second,just seconds from time) to bring the stipulation into play.
Both teams had their chances — and duly missed those — in the fifth that led the game stretched into a sixth chukkar. With the match now threatening to further delay the second fixture of the day,the organisers decided to widen the goalposts. Jindal were quick off the blocks,and Simran Shergill released teammate Akhil Sirohi who took it right up to the goal mouth. He was intercepted by Panasonics Siddhant Sharma and,as a result,a spot-hit was awarded in favour of Jindal Steel & Power.
Argentine Miguel Saravia calmly slotted the ball in to finally finish off the proceedings.
In the second match of the afternoon (make that evening),Trident Group-IPG made short work of their match against ASC Navy as they cantered to a 5 1/2-2 win. For Trident,Angad Kalan scored all five goals. On Thursday,Cavalry will play Panasonic while Cavalry-USPA will take on ASC-Navy at the Army Equestrian Centre. The final be played at the Jaipur Polo Grounds on Sunday.