Though Sher-E-Punjab continue to maintain their winning rythm in the inaugural Bridgestone World Series Hockey,Mumbai Marines impressed here today,to expose the chinks in the armour of the table leaders. The Shers won a tight contest against the Marines 2-1,but struggled to get the breakthroughs that they have come to be known for in this tournament.
New hero in their ranks,Bikramjeet Singh struck the first goal and then the invincible Deepak Thakur punched the winner while Hari Prasad posted in between to make a match of it. With 22 points with seven wins and a draw,Shers reaffirmed their top position once again.
Mumbai Marines,in desperate need to improve its sagging fortunes,created vital opportunities early in the play to go up,but lack of precision in the penalty corner drills did not match that urgency. Marines earned two penalty corners within the first five minutes. Devinder Walmiki took the first but Mathew Hotchiks blocked it in the nick of time,while a bad stop messed up the other. Harpal Singh charged out even as Walmiki was bent on rectifying the stoppers lapse.
Walmiki was again the culprit when he failed with another two in the fag end of the match.
On the other hand,Shers found a new hero in Bikramjit Singh,who struck off the first penalty corner at the closing minutes of first quarter. He,though,did not show the same venom in his next three attempts he got before half time.
The unstoppable pair of Prabhjot Singh and Deepak Thakur tore and traversed the Marines shores often,and came close to punch on a couple of occasions,but Adrian was simply in his elements. The Mumbai skipper summoned all his years of expertise when dire need arose again.
Thakur fetched a penalty corner after Harpal tripped him on the top of the D. Junior India skipper Harpreet Singh took the shot,which hit Walmiki on the left cage,leading to a stroke award which survived a referral. Adrian dived to his left,taking the stroke on his waist,to give Marines a new lease of life. The emboldened Marines went into top gear,and then on the Shers had to concede supremacy to them.
Hurricane Hari Prasad surged into the circle,took a thundering reverse shot that despite hitting goalie Sukhjeet Singh,took couple of small bounces and found home.
This 40th minute equalizer lasted only this third quarter as the Marines conceded the crucial lead in the final session. The Marines lost their first leg tie to Shers in similar fashion in the fourth quarter.
A lapse on the part of Ajmir Singh facilitated Prabhjot Singhs entry into the circle,but Clyde Abraham failed to intercept Prabhots feed on its trajectory. Thakur,lurking in the circle,sensed his chance and in his characteristic sprint and style,pushed the ball with his left hand in to the cage. Marines may have lost all three points at stake match but they certainly take back some pride from this match.