Gurpreet Singh had executed four penalty-corner conversions against Mumbai Marines at the MHA Stadium to give Pune Strykers a confidence-boosting 7-5 win on Friday. Two days later on a bigger stage,the National Stadium,the 26-year-old outshone Delhi Wizards international stars,former India skipper Rajpal Singh and Pakistan centre forward Shakeel Abbasi,to find the back of the board with a drag flick and a penalty stroke to help Pune to a 3-1 win on Saturday.
Pune’s tireless players kept the pressure on the home team. The ever-busy Vikas Pillay was one of them and equally fleet-footed was Mario Almada,who opened the scoring for Pune five minutes into the game. But when Philip Sunkel deflected the ball into the net after Rajpal Singh passed Vikram Kant,Delhi equalised.
Yet,Pune always looked like the team that would score more goals with their penalty corner expert working overtime once again. Gurpreet wasn’t as clinical as he was in his first outing for the World Series of Hockey. He botched up the first penalty corner earned by the team and his second effort,though struck with great momentum,missed the target. A period of play where both teams failed to make headway followed till Pune were awarded another penalty corner in the dying moments of the third quarter. Gurpreet didn’t miss and Pune regained the lead,which was only extended when he successfully slotted the penalty stroke in the 59th minute.
Try as they did Delhi didn’t successfully stitch together passes that led to goal-scoring opportunities. As time was running out Abbasi outran three Pune players and delivered a defence-splitting ball to Sunkel but a desperate lunge didn’t sent the ball in the direction of the goal.
sundays fixtures: Sher-e-Punjab vs Pune Strykers in Jalandhar (7pm); Chandigarh Comets vs Mumbai Marines in Mumbai (9pm),Live on Neo Sports