Pankaj Rajak literally saw the best of both worlds during the 57th Gooncha Senior Nehru Hockey Tournament semifinal match against Indian Navy at the South-Central Railway Sports Complex in Hyderabad. The Indian Oil goalkeeper let in two goals in the first half largely owing to some inept work by their defenders, but he atoned for the early disappointment, pulling off two crucial saves in the penalty shootout to bring the magnificent run of Indian Navy, handing them a 4-2 (2-2) win. The Navymen were left to rue two missed opportunities in the shootout that had to be applied after Indian Oil was playing catching-up hockey after in-form Jugraj Singh and Kuldeep helped Indian Navy lap up a 2-0 half-time lead.
The disjointed performance of the Indian Oil in the first half transformed into more purposeful and focused hockey as they scored in the final two quarters via Manpreet Singh and Affan Yousuf to take the contest into the shootout, where they emerged winners.
Indian Oil will face Railway Sports Promotion Board in the final on Tuesday – both teams had faced off in the final of the recent 31st Lal Bahadur Shastri Hockey Tourney, where the Railmen won convincingly 4-0. Pardeep Singh scored a brace to power RSPB to a facile 4-0 win over defending champions Punjab National Bank. The semifinals are proving to be a bugbear for the bankmen, who have now lost in the semifinals of three consecutive tourneys – Surjit Hockey Tourney and Lal Bahadur Shastri Hockey Tourney.