Bangalore: A brilliant brace by young Karan Laxman Baskaran fashioned a 3-1 victory for Bhopal Badshahs who defeated hosts Karnataka Lions in their first home match at the KSHA turf here on Monday.
Lions are yet to open their account in the Bridgestone World Series Hockey are lying at the bottom of the table while Bhopal Badshahs have six points from two wins and one loss as they returned to winning ways here. Karan has made his father and coach Baskaran proud as he has been playing a crucial role in all the matches Bhopal Badshahs won. The last Olympian who led India to a gold medal at Olympics has returned to coaching in the World Series Hockey.
The action-packed third quarter saw Karnataka Lions take a lead in the 41st minute through veteran star Dhanraj Pillay, who showed glimpses of his famed stick-work and aggression. Put in possession by Arjun Halappa, he overcame a defender and tapped in near the left post on his second attempt. Arjun Halappa played his heart out for the Lions but could not help his team win today.
However, Lions suffered severe set-back thereafter as Bhopal Badshahs came out aggressively not only to equalize but pump in two more goals in the next five minutes. A brilliant field goal saw Lalit Kumar Upadhyay receive a long ball from the midfield. The hardworking youngster was all over the place today. He was quick in his passes and fast to fall back and defend. He moved into the circle but with two defenders blocking him, he passed the ball back to Waseem Ahmad and the Pakistani star did not waste any time with a quick short pass to his right where a waiting Karan Laxman Baskaran slammed in, in the 43rd minute and the Badshahs celebrated as the ball went through the legs of Lions’ custodian Devesh Chouhan, who made three saves in the
first half but was let down by his defenders today.
Within two minutes, Bhopal earned a short-corner and Karan Baskaran was once again in his elements scoring with a low strike between rival goalie Chouhan and defender Len Aiyappa to post the lead. (2-1). Suddenly, the match came to life and a silly mistake in the defence saw Bhopal Badshahs post another field goal in the 48th minute. Lions’ defender Len Aiyappa fumbled a bit and Lalit Kumar stole the ball just outside the circle and put Sameer Dad in possession.
The Bhopal Badshahs’ skipper sent in a first-time short which brooked no answer from the rival goalkeeper to make it 3-1 in favour of Badshahs. Earlier, the barren first half proved unlucky for Karnataka Lions whose two shots at goal hit the post. Though Bhopal Badshahs had better possession and three shots at goal, it was Lions who proved to be more dangerous but missed taking the lead by a whisker, twice in the two quarters. Amar Aiyamma’s powerful undercut from near the spot, saw the ball raise menacingly close into the corner of the goal, but the vertical came in between to the great relief of Badshahs, and later following a set-piece in the 23rd minute, Len Aiyappa’s powerful drag-flick hit the left post after first runner Baljinder Singh stick changed the direction of the flick a way bit.