A Rare Quarterfinal Exit in Premier Domestic Hockey Tourney for Much-Fancied Indian Oil

It’s not often that the Indian Oil hockey team is shown the exit door in the quarterfinal stage of a premier domestic hockey tournament. The oilmen are considered one of the formidable domestic hockey sides for a long time now. But their 3-5 defeat to Punjab National Bank in the quarterfinal stage of the 38th Surjit Hockey Tournament means that Indian Oil will not be in contention for a podium finish or a top-two finish.

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A close look at Indian Oil’s impressive run in the Surjit Hockey Tournament will put things in perspective. The oilmen have won the Surjit Hockey Tournament on four occasions – 2007, 2010, 2012, and 2014 and have been runners-up on six occasions (2005, 2006, 2009, 2011, 2013, 2015). One could say the quarterfinal league format of the 38th Surjit Hockey Tournament was harsh on them – they were literally in Pool of Death (Pool A) alongside Punjab National Bank and Indian Navy.

Indian Oil has a slew of former internationals in its ranks – former Olympians Kothajit Singh and Vokkaliga Raghunath alongside the likes of Affan Yousuf, Talwinder Singh, Gurjinder Singh, Roshan Minz, Arman Qureshi, and Bharat Chikkara. Coached by two-time Olympian and former crafty forward Deepak Thakur, the quarterfinal exit of Indian Oil is nothing less than shocking.

Indian Oil has been the team to watch out for in the domestic hockey circuit. The year 2019 – when domestic hockey was actively played before the Covid-19 pandemic greeted us in early 2020 saw the Indian Oil side win as many as three premier domestic tournaments – 123rd Beighton Cup, 93th MCC Muruguppa Gold Cup, and Bombay Gold Cup – interestingly, the oilmen got the better of Punjab National Bank in the finals of the Beighton Cup and MCC Muruguppa All-India Gold Cup. Indian Oil also managed two runners-up finishes in 2019 – losing in the final of Surjit Hockey Tourney to Punjab & Sind Bank 3-6 (2-2) in a shootout and in the final of Obaidullah Gold Cup to Air India 3-4. The latest win by Punjab National Bank is an act of sweet revenge for the oilmen had twice denied the bankmen a shot at title wins in 2019.

Indian Oil will strive to make amends for their early exit in the Surjit Hockey Tourney with a strong showing in the upcoming 57th Senior Nehru Hockey Tournament that will be held in Hyderabad from November 14-25.

Impressive Run of Indian Oil in 2019

Beighton CupChampions
Bombay Gold CupChampions
All India MCC-Murugappa Gold CupChampions
Surjit Hockey TourneyRunners-up
Obaidullah Gold CupRunners-up