Bhopal: This was one of the most convincing display from the Badshahs in the entire tournament. Skipper Sameer Dad led from the front, goalkeeper Baljit Singh celebrated his birthday with a solid performance against the best drag-flicker in the tournament, Pakistani star Imran Warsi, their defence was tight, the midfield moved in tandem and the forwadline showed a never-day-die attitude though in the end, their supporters felt that the scoreline deserved to be 6-1 instead of 3-1 against the Chennai Cheetahs here.
Bhopal Badshahs are already looking like a champion side though there are still 30 more matches to go before the inaugural Bridgestone World Series Hockey enters the semifinal stage. The Badshahs had 48 per cent possession in the match as compared to 52 per cent that the Cheetahs had, took the second half of the match in their grip, and remained in the driving seat till the end. No chance of a rear guard action or a humdinger in sight for the Cheetahs as the Badshahs held complete sway in front of their home crowd.
The green machine played like a team possessed and a jam-packed Aisgbagh Stadium in applause – made a great viewing for hockey. It wasn’t that the Cheetahs played badly; actually the Badshahs were playing as if in a trance. With the three points gained today, Badshahs are now sitting on the top of points table after completing all seven matches in the first round of Bridgestone WSH.
Dad struck early in the match in the 20th minute but Cheetahs’ Vikram Pillay found the equalizer two minutes later from a penalty stroke. Joseph Rearson tore apart the solid looking Bhopal defence and earned a controversial stroke which survived a referral. Pillay placed the stroke to the top right corner of the net to restore parity for the moment. The Badshahs struck again through a move by Pakistani star Waseem Ahmed, and Lalit Upadhya enhanced the lead in the 48th minute. Within five minutes, the lead was consolidated further by Casey Henwood, who made full use of a Dad’s feed to complete the tally in the 52nd minute. The Cheetahs paid the penalty for missing their chances in the first half and failing to stop a rampaging Dad, who led the Badshahs brilliantly today.