Punjab & Sind Bank has had a towering presence over the prestigious Surjit Hockey Tourney that is held every year in Jallandhar. The bankmen have won the coveted tournament a record 11 times and have been runners-up as many as six times – which effectively means that they have managed to reach the final of the Surjit Hockey Tourney on 17 occasions among the 36 editions held so far (the 37th edition was not held in 2020 owing to Covid-19)
Punjab & Sind Bank in fact, are the reigning champions having won the 2019 edition outduelling Indian Oil 6-3 in a shootout after both teams were locked 2-2 in regulation time. The bankmen had trailed the oilmen 0-2 in the first ten minutes of play but regrouped well to level the issue, and subsequently had the last laugh in the shootout. Punjab & Sind Bank is clearly one of the favourites for the 38th Surjit Hockey Tourney. “I would like to believe that we are here to win the Surjit Hockey Tourney. Of course, the Covid-19 situation affected us and lot of injuries greeted us during training as players have not been able to train for long during the pandemic, which seems to have ebbed,” says former Olympian and Punjab & Sind Bank coach Gundeep Kumar.
Gundeep, who had made his senior international debut at the 1985 Asia Cup in Dhaka and played for the country till 1991, is wary of the fact that it won’t be a smooth ride for his team. “I think Indian Oil and Army XI are strong sides – they are very fit and can give any side a run for their money. We will ready for them as well as the other opponents.”
Punjab & Sind Bank have a slew of former internationals in its ranks such as drag-flicker Gaganpreet Singh, midfielder Santa Singh and the forward duo of Parwinder Singh and Satbir Singh. But Gundeep concedes that the team has been significantly depleted by the exits of several players to Punjab Police. “As many as four players – Ramandeep Singh, Sarvanjit Singh, Harbir Singh and Harjot Singh have moved to Punjab Police and their absence has been felt by us. It is challenging to fill the void created by the absence of these players,” the 1998 Seoul Olympics player puts things in perspective.
Punjab & Sind Bank will be the team to watch for sure at the 38th Surjit Hockey Tourney.