Saturday, 26 May, 2007

Maharashtra Police to play Kolhapur XI in finals

Published May 22

B D Narayankar

KHADKI: Mahindra’s ‘F’ United were trapped into the game plan of Maharashtra Police. The latter played a waiting game in the first half to tire out the young legs of ‘F’ United and launch a counter attack in the second, which they did, beating their rivals 1-0 to enter into the finals of the All India Ambedkar Memorial Hockey Tournament played at Ammunition Factory Ground on Monday.

Maharashtra Police utilised all their experience to back themselves in a situation which any other team could have succumbed under pressure. The greatest advantage they had was the ability to play in both types of turfs which ‘F’ United did not have. United could have been a tough proposition for Maharashtra Police on astro-turf.

Knowing this well, Maharashtra Police played attacking hockey in the second half, not letting United forwards to barge inside their danger zone. Suddenly, they earned a penalty corner which Maharashtra Police defender Niyazullah crunched one past goalkeeper Sudhir Dixit who needlessly fell flat as he saw the ball flying over his head.

The goal put United team on the backfoot, bringing them under pressure that put their game out-of-gear. Ramesh Pillay, former international player and Dhanraj Pillay’s brother, said: “The inability to play on dirt turf had done the United boys in and they could not match the experience of Maharashtra Police.”

In the next 10 minutes, ‘F’ United had a good chance to score the equalizer, but was denied by goalkeeper Wahid Pathan after flinging himself to his right, not before taking the hit on his helmet vicer, which gave a bit of a bother to his teammates. He, however, stood up next moment to block the hits.

The United also had a golden opportunity just before the first-half’. Azaz Qureshi crunched in from the right into the centre with magnificent stick work and gave a pass to Chungkhei Melban, the left-out, who frittered away the chance.

Maharashtra Police will be very happy to have stormed into the finals, but they have not taken Kolhapur XI easily. So far, Kolhapur XI has emerged the best team in the tournament after beating the strongest team of the tournament - the Rashtriya Chemical Fertilisers being coached by Ramesh Pillay.

Maharashtra Police, on the other hand, rely on experience and wait-and-watch-and-attack policy that they had exhibited right throughout the tournament.

SCORES: Maharashtra Police 1 (Niyazullah) bt Mahindra’s ‘F’ United 0.

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