Pune: Pune Strykers got the better of Karnataka Lions 3-2 in yet another sizzler here on Monday. With three wins and draws against one defeat in the previous match, Pune became the first team to notch up 12 points to top the table on the penultimate day of Round One of the Bridgestone WSH.
With the score tied at 2-2, Damandeep Singh struck heroically out of a quick follow-up to a failed penalty corner sequence in the 55th minute, to end the deadlock even as Karnataka messed up three of the six penalty corners they earned in the last four minutes of play.
Lions were somewhat lethargic and clueless in the first quarter and lucky not to concede more than once in that session. Strykers’ Damandeep Singh and Bikas Toppo missed a couple of sitters due to anxiety rather than good defence.
Shortly, the Strykers availed a pathetic defensive lapse from the Lions to take the lead . Damandeep led the charge from the right flank and smashed the ball only to be blocked by goalie Devesh Chauhan, who left the cage early. Roshan Minz, who followed Damandeep closely, bounced on the rebound to blast the ball into the empty cage. Lions defenders Zeeshan Ashraf and Len Aiyappa were clearly caught unaware.
The visitors lifted their game in the second quarter. Winger Jarnail Singh sprinted from right into the circle, and fetched the first penalty corner of the match (24th minute). Aiyappa flicked in with ferocious force and goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh managed to deflect it but the ball hit Vikram Yadav which led to a penalty stroke. The stroke that survived a referral by captain Roshan Minz, was put in by Aiyappa to bring the score on parity.
Both teams lift their game after the lemon break. Lions and Strykers pressed hard, spark flew thick and fast, keeping the defence on both teams on their toes.
After a lull for some time, the match came alive with two terrific goals coming in two minutes in the third quarter. First, the unmarked Lungile Tolekile struck between the legs of the charging Devesh Chauhan. A quick counter followed the next minute and the evergreen prompter Ravi Pal showed a clean pair of heels to a host of defenders before sending a parallel pass inside the circle. With the only goalie to beat, Inocent Kullu placed the ball on the right side of the cage. However, Strykers’ Damandeep had other ideas and sealed the match with his opportunistic strike.