Punjab National Bank haven’t quite played like the defending champions in their opening match against Army XI when they were held to a 1-1 draw at the Gooncha 57th Senior Nehru Hockey Tournament being played at the South-Central Railways Sports Complex in Hyderabad. But on Thursday, the bankmen, who had reached the semifinals of the 38th Surjit Hockey Tourney and had lost 1-2 to eventual champions Indian Railways, were pushed on the backfoot by an early Pranjan Aiyappa strike – it looked like they would endure another struggle in the second game like their first game.
However, the team coached by Dronacharya awardee Romesh Pathania came to the party with drag-flicker Bhagat Singh Dhillon leading the bankmen’s surge, scoring a sizzling hat-trick to orchestrate a superb 4-2 win over South-Central Railways – a side that has looked so purposeful and enterprising in the knockout phase. The outcome of the match made one thing clear – Punjab National Bank will be red-hot favourites to make it to the semifinals from Pool A.
Railway Sports Promotion Board made it two wins out of two after edging out CAG by the odd goal in three – once again in-form Pardeep Singh did the goal-scoring act besides a short corner conversion by Joginder Singh.
Another formidable outfit Punjab & Sind Bank appeared to have not recovered from their 3-7 shellacking at the hands of Indian Railways in their opening tie as they were beaten by Indian Navy by a solitary goal scored in the closing stages by Joginder Singh. Railway Sports Promotion Board are looking good to secure their semifinal passage from Pool B.