WSH: Cheetahs on the prowl as Strykers fumble

 WSH: Cheetahs on the prowl as Strykers fumblePune: Chennai Cheetahs swung back to winning ways in the World Series Hockey as displaying robust defence, clever off the ball running and quick turn-overs, the Cheetahs were strategically ahead of Pune Strykers in almost all the departments and beat them convincingly 3-1 here at the PCMC ground on Thursday.

With this victory, Chennai Cheetahs have 10 points from three wins and one draw after eight matches while Pune Strykers have 12 points from three wins and three draws after playing the same number of matches.

An opportunistic goal from the speedy striker Adam Sinclair saw the Cheetahs take the lead in the 10th minute when he tapped in from handshaking distance near the left post, to stun Pune goalkeeper Gurvinder Singh. Mark Harris, who was in possession with a short pass at the top of the circle, sent in a powerful hit which zoomed past a couple of defenders and was a bit wide off the left post, but an alert Adam pounced on the ball and tapped it home in a flash.

The Strykers worked hard and had better possession but failed to convert their moves into goals. The frustration allowed the Cheetahs to regroup and they came back against the run of play to increase their tally in the 31st minute with a brilliant field goal. The move was initiated from the right flank by Vikram Pillay, who received a short pass near the spot with the Strykers goalkeeper beaten comprehensively. Vikas Sharma, who had an open goal in front of him, made no mistake in tapping the ball in.

Despite the reverse, the Strykers rallied and managed to pull one back three minutes into the second half when stand-in skipper Roshan Minz punched in a rebound from the top of the circle on the right. Thereafter, they raided the rival citadel with vigour and urgency but the Cheetahs defence was solid as a rock. The Pune side may have dominated the proceedings and had better control but it was Chennai who managed to penetrate one more time to make it 3-1 in the dying minutes of the game. Penalty-corner specialist Syed Imran Warsi, who missed a couple of chances due to the bouncy field, took a step into the circle and executed a perfect flick to seal the issue. The Cheetahs take on Karnataka Lions at Bangalore on March 17 while Strykers travel to Chandigarh to play with Comets on March 19.