At the recently-held 38th Surjit Hockey Tournament in Jallandhar, Indian Oil made a rather surprising quarterfinal exit – something you don’t associate with this fancied side. The oilmen were shown the tournament exit door by Punjab National Bank after being handed a 3-5 defeat in an intriguing tussle. And on Friday at the 31st Lal Bahadur Shastri Hockey Tournament being played at the Major Dhyan National Stadium in New Delhi, Indian Oil exacted sweet revenge vanquishing Punjab National Bank 2-0 to make it to the final. Former internationals – Armaan Quereshi and Talwinder Singh scored for the oilmen.
The semifinal loss halted the winning run of bankmen who had posted three straight wins in the league phase over CAG, Indian Railways, and Indian Navy. Punjab National Bank has won the Lal Bahadur Shastri Hockey Tournament three consecutive times in 2016, 2017, and 2018 and only missed out in the 2019 edition where Air India triumphed over NCOE Sonipat in the final.
Indian Oil will now lock horns with Surjit Hockey Tournament champions Indian Railways in the final on Saturday – the red brigade had to sweat before putting it across Indian Air Force by the odd goal in three. An indirect short corner initiative set up by former international Jasjit Singh Kullar was slammed home by Arjun Sharma in the second half. Manip Kerketta brought the airmen into the contest in the final quarter but Pardeep Singh poured cold water over his efforts to seal a hard-fought 2-1 win. The railmen had reached the final of Lal Bahadur Shastri Hockey Tournament in 2017, when they had lost to Punjab National Bank 3-5 – in 2015 Indian Railways again, had finished runners-up going down 2-5 (2-2) to ONGC in a shootout.
A cracker of a final contest is in the offing on Saturday.