New Delhi based freelance journalist and hockey lover K. Arumugam is the founder editor
A science graduate from the Presidency College (Chennai) and a post-graduate from prestigious Indian Institute of Technology (Bombay) in Geology and Hydrology, Arumugam has been professionally a water expert. He has taken volunteer retirement from a lucrative government job and is devoting full time for hockey.
WSH proves a winner * By T.N. Raghu
The success of the inaugural World Series Hockey tournament is a shot in the arm for the sport in India and a slap on the face of Hockey India administrators who tried to scuttle the eight-team league.
Even neutral observers and hockey lovers had their doubts because the WSH faced many hurdles. The timing of the event was instrumental to its success. Hockey was in the news for all the right reasons after India qualified for the Olympics on February 26.
Indian cricket team’s dire performance in Australia aided hockey because the fans and the media needed some feel-good story to talk about.
Hockey India dangled the carrot of Olympic participation to current Indian players to prevent them from taking part in the WSH. The HI honchos might have thought the cash rich league wouldn’t take off without the likes of Sandeep Singh, Sardar Singh and Shivendra Singh. But their calculations went awry as the WSH went ahead without Singhs.
The Premier Hockey League — conceived by the IHF and ESPN in 2005 — was conducted in one or two centres and the teams were owned by the organisers. But the franchise-based WSH bandwagon moved around on the home and away basis, thus creating a logistics nightmare. Setting up broadcast centres at eight venues was another headache the WSH had to grapple with. These issues are taken for granted in cricket in India, but not in hockey.
Matches — two per day — were telecast with a touch of class and professionalism. The late evening schedule helped the fans to tune in after school, college and office hours. According to the TV rating released by the WSH, the event captured more eye balls than the English Premier League consistently, which is not a mean record. If the statistics are true, hockey’s hopes of filling in the non-cricket void on TV aren’t misplaced.
The crowd support in Chennai, Pune, Bengaluru, Bhopal and Mumbai was excellent while it was lukewarm in the northern centres. Overall, the number wasn’t bad for a hockey tournament. The atmosphere for the final between Sher-E-Punjab and Pune Styrkers was electric and the turnout impressive.
The progress of Pune to the final is the story of the tournament. The Styrkers, who didn’t have big foreign and Indian names in their roster, rose from the ashes twice to set up a date with Punjab. When everything seemed lost against Chandi-garh Comets in the semifinals, Pune staged a stunning a recovery from 1-4 down to force a shootout. The emergence of youngsters such as Gurpreet Singh, Lalit Upadhyaya, Sim-randeep Singh, Vikramjeet Singh and B. Laxman Karan is a legacy the WSH would cherish.
The cash prizes awarded were unprecedented in world hockey. Gurjinder Singh, Chandigarh’s PC specialist, scooped the MVP award and Rs 1 crore. He hasn’t even turned 20. There is no doubt that an injection of cash is critical to revive hockey in India. Nimbus and the IHF have delivered what they had promised. It is time to raise a toast to them
Narrow win for Comets Chandigarh Comets scored its second straight win, holding off Mumbai Marines 4-3, in a World Series Match here on Wednesday.
The result: Chandigarh Comets 4 (Ramandeep Singh 3rd, Gurjinder Singh 17th, Mohd. Amir Khan 32nd, Robert Green 69th) bt Mumbai Marines 3 (Xess Banmali 35th, Troy Sutherland 50th, Ajmer Singh 55th).
Thursday’s matches: Chandigarh Comets v Karnataka Lions, Chandigarh, 7 p.m.; Bhopal Badshahs v Pune Strykers, Bhopal, 9 p.m.
WSH: Strykers keep semifinal hopes alive
PUNE: The see-saw battle continues in the inaugural World Series Hockey as Pune Strykers stunned table toppers Sher-E-Punjab 3-2 on Tuesday, thereby getting themselves back in reckoning for a semifinal spot.
For a team that impressed in the first half of the league but slipped to mediocrity later on, the 3-2 win over the title favourites will no doubt boost their morale, though their fans may fear that the wake-up call has come a bit too late.
However, in tune with the latest trend in the league — of the losing team striking first before losing steam — continued here too. Shers’ young star Bikramjit Singh stunned the home crowd by converting the first penalty-corner, but Strykers came back strongly with some exhilarating display of grit and skill.
Livewire Vikas Pillay, who moments before had missed a sitter set up by Argentine import Mario Almada, was accurate in his penalty stroke to get the equalizer. The stroke was awarded after PC expert Gurpreet Singh’s drag-flick hit Mathew Hotchkis on the right leg.
The hosts could have added another before the end of the first quarter but the goal was disallowed after a video referral. Almada had bounced on to a rebound to strike the ball into the goal but the video referral turned it down on the ground that Almada’s push had struck the foot of teammate Roshan Minz before crossing the goalline.
A rival’s leg came to the rescue of Strykers. Gurpreet Singh’s next penalty corner hit Shers’ Prabhdeep Singh Powar on his left leg and got deflected into the net. A couple of minutes later, Gurpreet affected another PC conversion to put the Strykers ahead 3-1.
Unlike the second quarter which belonged to the Strykers, the second half witnessed a sea-change in the Shers’ approach. They came all out and earned half-a-dozen penalty corners, but were stonewalled by the Strykers goalkeeper and his band of defenders. Gagan Ajit Singh reduced the margin for Shers with just seven minutes left for the hooter.
In the late evening match, Karnataka Lions got the better of hosts Bhopal Badahahs 5-2. For Lions, drag-flicker Len Aiyappa was in his elements with a fine hat-trick , while skipper Arjun Halappa and Naveen Kumar added to the tally with two field goals. Waseem Ahmad and Karan Bhaskaran were the scorers for Badshahs
World Series Hockey: Comets thrash Cheetahs 3-0
CHENNAI: Home does not seem to give Chennai Cheetahs any comfort as they crashed to another loss in their backyard on Monday.
It was Chandigarh Comets’ turn to rub salt into Cheetahs’ wounds, beating them 3-0 in a World Series Hockey match at the Mayor Radhakrishnan stadium on Monday.
Amir Khan, Gurjinder Singh and Gabbar Singh scored for the visitors. With this win, Chandigarh Comets logged 22 points and virtually sealed their last-four berth. Karnataka Lions (18), with two games in hand, are ahead of the Bhopal Bhadshahs (17) and Cheetahs (16) in the semifinal race. Table toppers Sher-E-Punjab (25) have already entered the semifinals.
In the other match played later in the evening, Delhi Wizards demolished Pune Strykers 6-2 . Upendra Pillay, Shakeel Abbasi, Vikramjeet Singh, Victo Singh 2 and Vikramjeet Singh scored for the winners. Mario Nicolas Almada and Vikas Topo reduced the margins for the hosts.
Facile win for Chandigarh Comets
Outplayed and outmanoeuvred, Chennai Cheetahs tumbled to its sixth defeat in 12 matches on Monday. The 3-0 reverse against Chandigarh Comets renders the Chennai team’s chances of making the semifinal grade grim in the World Series of Hockey (WSH) now into the home stretch for the final, likely to be in Mumbai, on April 1.
While there was precious little to commend either in the approach work or the defensive competence of the Chennai outfit, the Comets, led by the Pakistani ace, Rehan Butt, showed the grit, determination and the ability to ward off dangerous moments with equanimity to reach the winning post.
Put ahead in the early minutes by Amir Khan, whose opportunism from a well conceived move culminated in the goal, the Comets, coached by the former national coach, Harendra Singh, left nothing to chance. The frontline functioned with methodical efficiency thanks to the incisive moves by Butt and the quick sallies on the left flank by Amir.
In the mid-field, Malaysia’s Jiwa Mohan showed that touch of assurance in his tackles as did the sweeper, the gangling Aussie, Matthew Philiips. However, a special word for goal-keeper Harjot Singh is not out of place here. Athletic and intrepid he was a picture of confidence in his work under the bar.
That Chennai, possessing in its fold that renowned striker, Imran Warsi, failed to convert even one of the nine penalty corners is a tribute to the performance of Harjot.
Gurjinder Singh lived up to his reputation as a ferocious striker of penalty corners when he enlarged the midway through the first quarter. This was his 12th goal in the competition.
Briefly, Chennai showed signs of a comeback. Propelled by the neat wing play by Vikas Sharma, the attack displayed a veneer of vigour that brought a spate of penalty corners. At one point, Chennai had four of them in succession but the defenders held on gallantly. Only once did the shot by Warsi hit the post and bounced back into play. In control
Expectations that Chennai outfit will pull itself back into the fight slowly evaporated as the tie match meandered in a prosaic format. The Comets controlled the trend and widened the margin in the third quarter. A whiplash of a shot by Gurjinder Singh struck Vikram Pillay in front of the goal. The Canadian Sukhwinder Singh converted without a hint of anxiety.
Clearly weary and unable to do anything constructive, the Cheetahs slowly gave away even as the Comets emerged as a runaway winner.
With an aggregate of 22 points from 12 encounters, Chandigarh Coments can count itself as a prospective semifinalist. On the contrary, Cheetahs is stuck at 16 points from 12. It must be hoping for miracle when it meets Delhi Wizards on March 28 here.
The result: Chandigarh Comets 3 (Amir Khan, Gurjinder Singh, Sukhwinder Singh) beat Chennai Cheetahs 0.
Tuesday’s matches: Pune Strykers v Sher-E-Punjab, Pune, 7 p.m.; Bhopal Badshahs v Karnataka Lions, Bhopal, 9 p.m
During a Chandigarh Comets practice session on Monday, Sukhwinder Singh Gabbar took a walk down the aisles of the Hockey Stadium in Sector 42 with friend and team mate Inderjeet Singh Chadha. While it was just another stroll for Chadha around his regular training ground, for Gabbar — the Canadian international — it was in fact a walk down the aisles of his nostalgia lane. The flooding back of memories seem to do the 31-year-old player a world of good, for later in the evening, he rounded off the day with a brace in his side’s 4-3 win over Pune Strykers in the World Series Hockey game. “It was here that I first started playing hockey,” said Gabbar. “So when we played our first match against Bhopal Badshahs, I couldn’t help but remember the times when I used to train here with the likes of Inderjeet Singh Chadha.” Chadha, of course, is now a team mate of his at Comets. But then, Gabbar moved to Vancouver in 1997, and Chadha went on to win the junior World Cup for India in 2001. “Back then, I called him from Canada and he and I couldn’t stop talking about our days in Chandigarh. Now, I’m glad to have returned.” Gabbar was born in the Punjab village of Bahadur Hussain. While he did represent India in a school tournament — the Asian School Hockey Championship in 1994 — Gabbar’s move to Canada ensured that his dreams of representing the country of his birth ended prematurely. But his talent was spotted by Canada’s then coach Gene Muller, and ended up making his international debut at the age of 26. “I hadn’t played hockey in some time when Muller insisted that I should give it another shot. I made my debut in 2007, we won the Pan American Games, and that pretty much cemented my spot,” shared Gabbar. Back where it began: Gabbar returns home a winner
A firefighter by profession, Gabbar also represented Canada in the 2010 World Cup and was part of the London Olympics qualifiers last month. “I did a firefighter’s course a couple of years ago in Vancouver and now I balance both professions,” he said.
While playing for Canada continues to remain his biggest ambition, a small part of Gabbar yearns to give something back to Punjab hockey. He said: “One day, I will return to India and find a coaching job.” But until then, the walk down memory lane should suffice well.
Delhi edge Mumbai
In Delhi, Wizards won a controversial game against Mumbai Marines 2-1 despite Mumbai dominating for a major part of the game. Delhi went ahead through Vikramjit Singh but Ajmer Singh slot home a rebound off Devender Walmiki’s penalty corner to level scores. Ajmer, however, ended up gifting Delhi their winning goal when he scored an own goal in the 35th minute, deflecting Shakeel Abbasi’s shot in.
Rajpal Singh earned Delhi a penalty stroke in the 67th minute after a solo run across the field, only to have the umpire overturn it on appeal. A minute later, Troy Sutherland got the equaliser for Mumbai, but this time Delhi appealed and the goal was disallowed
Karnataka beat Delhi to climb up in WSH standings
BANGALORE: Karnataka Lions defeated Delhi Wizards 3-1 in a round-robin match to move up to the third position in the inaugural World Series Hockey on Saturday.
Karnataka scored two goals in the first quarter through Ravipal Singh (10th minute) ,Jarnail Singh (17th) while their third goal came from the sticks of Len Aiyappa (65th).
India discard Rajpal Singh is the lone goal-scorer for Delhi.
With this win, Karnataka are now placed third in the points table with 18 points from 12 matches, while Delhi is languishing at the seventh spot in the eight-team event with 13 points from 11 games.
Delhi will next play Pune Strykers in Pune on Monday while Karnataka will be up against Bhopal Badshahs in Bhopal on Tuesday
BHOPAL: Bhopal Badshahs made a remarkable comeback to hold second-placed Chandigarh Comets 4-4 in an 11th round match of the World Series Hockey on Saturday.
Down 0-4 in the first two quarters, Badshahs made a spirited comeback and scored four goals in the next two periods to deny Comets full points.
Expectedly it was the team from Chandigarh which dominated the first two quarters pumping in as many as four goals through Sukhwinder Singh Gabbar (8th minute and 20th), Gurjinder Singh (9th), and Amir Khan (30th).
But it was not to be Comets day as Badshahs came out a determined lot in the last two quarters and scored through Affan Yousuf (40th minute), Sameer Dad (47th), Shailendra Singh Bundela (61st, 64th) to share points with the better-placed visitors.
By virtue of this draw, Comets have consolidated their position in the standings and have moved to the second position with 19 points from 11 matches.
The draw also raised Badshahs’ semifinal hopes and they now lie in the sixth position in the tally with 14 points from 11 games.
Badshahs will next host bottom-placed Mumbai Marines here tomorrow, while Chandigarh will travel to Chennai to play third-placed Chennai Cheetahs on Monday
24th March 2012: Match 43
Red-alert as Lions on the rampage
* Karnataka Lions win third match on the trot as they beat Delhi Wizards 3-1
* Ravi Pal Singh (8th min), Jarnail Singh (36th min) Len Aiyappa (66th min) score for the Lions
* Rajpal Singh reduces the margin for Wizards in the 51st min
Bengaluru, March 24, 2012: In one of the most remarkable turnaround that the inaugural Bridegstone World Series Hockey has witnessed, Karnataka Lions appears to have woken up from their slumber late but completely. The Lions, more popularly known as the team that features the ‘face of Indian hockey’, the 41-year-old Dhanraj Pillay, notched their third consecutive win to fashion arguably the most dramatic comeback in this tournament – adding a convinicng 3-1 win over Delhi Wizards here at the KHSA Stadium on Saturday after their shocking win over leaders Sher-E-Punjab the previous day.
With three amazing back-to-back wins, Lions are now comfortably perched at third in the pool table.
Despite playing with a player less in the last 20 minutes, the cohesive and coherent Lions combined briliantly to take a 2-0 lead within the first 20 minutes and thereafter with a dogged defence kept the marauding forwards of Wizards at bay. After gifting a goal midway through, Len Aiyappa ensured safe victory passage with a late penalty corner conversion.
Despite the smooth sailing Lions lost their cool in the final phase of the match, which almost threatened them with defeat, but the reliable Aiyappa saved the day for the home team, making use of their seventh and last short corer.
The Lions were cruising for a well-deserved victory with 2-0 lead till the third quarter. However, their momentary lapse of concentration allowed the profligate the Wizards to come and taunt them with a goal. The Lions indulged in needless rough tackles and reckless body play in the last phase, and had two players sent off simultaneously.
Both scorers of the Lions, Jarnail Singh and Ravi Pal Singh, for a change, paved the way for the Wizards’ long due comeback. Delhi’s chances came alive after the stern and strict Mark Knulle showed no mercy on Jarnail Singh, who received the WSH’s first red card. In the same minute, the usually composed Ravi Pal Singh needlessly shouldered Vikram Kant in the midfield, leading to a green card suspension.
The Wizards struck when the iron was hot. They lost no time in grabbing the two-men advantage. The sharp and accurate Rajpal Singh sprinted fast with a ball on one hand to the circle from the left flank, passed the ball from the right baseline, and saw to his satisfaction to be deflected into the cage by Lions’ Vinayak Bijwad, a self-goal.
Zeeshan Ashraff, Aiyappa and the lion-hearted Nitin Kumar stood in tandem to ward off innumerable attacks the Wizards launched when they had superior numbers on the field. Devesh Chauhan, the ‘Wall’, was undaunted and came out with another sterling show to deny the likes of Shakeel Abassi, Upendra Pillay and Victo Singh any room for scoring.
Earlier, the usually reliable penalty corner did not work out for the Lions. However, Ravi Pal ran along the baseline to cut a rebound, and then whacked it to the other side of the net for the match’s first goal. After Arjun Antil set up, left winger Jarnail Singh deflected a close range ball to add to the woes of the Wizards. The Lions are in full flow at the moment and the tournament is likely to get even more exciting in the coming days.
Schedule for March 25: Chennai Cheetahs vs Sher-E-Punjab at Mayor Radhakrishnan Hockey Stadium, Chennai, 7pm; Bhopal Badshahs vs Mumbai Marines at Bhopal; 9pm. Live on Neo Sports.
24th March 2012: Match 44
Bhopals are the Sultans of Swing
* Bhopal Badshahs script a brilliant 4-4 draw against Chandigarh Comets
* Shailendra Singh Bundela scores two goals to fashion the miraculous fightback, also wins the man-of-the-match award; Affan Yousaf and Sameer Dad score one apiece for the Badshahs
Bhopal, March 24, 2012: The goals have been coming thick and fast in the inaugural Bridgestone World Series Hockey but the real heroes of the tournament are the fighters who have come back from behind.
In an incredible fight back, probably the show-stopper match of the tournament till now, Bhopal Badshahs scripted an unbelievable draw after trailing 4-0 at halftime against Chandigarh Comets here. Their gutsy goalkeeper Baljit Singh brought a brilliant save against Pakistani star Rehan Butt, who had an empty goal post in front and was about to make it 5-0. Shailendra Singh Bundela led the fight back for the hosts with two goals, with the final one coming off an unexpected deflection at the last minute which took the Comets goalkeeper completely by surprise.
Everything went right for Comets in the first half. All the three penalty corners were converted before colt Amir Khan added one through field effort. With a mountain to climb in the second session, Badshahs struck twice a goal apiece from Affan Yousaf and Sameer Dad before Shailendra Singh Bundela cleverly made use of two penalty corners to see his side not only escape from defeat but also salvage a point from what appeared a hapless situation.
Comets fructified their first penalty corner, though it was difficult to aver whether it was by design or fluke. Gurjinder Singh got the pushed ball with a bad stop, could not take the shot, yet in the spur of moment, sent it gently backwards to Sukhwinder ‘Gabbar’ Singh. The Canadian star lost no time to grab the chance, and whacked a deceptive forehand that crashed into the middle of the net.
The hard working Bharat Chhikara fetched the second penalty corner. Gurjinder Singh’s delayed shot first hit the charger’s stick, but on deflection menacingly veered towards the net. Goalie Baljit Singh jumped to block, yet the ball bounced off his right hand to hit the roof of the net, giving an idea of the power that Gurjinder packed in his drag flick.
The second goal spurred the Badshahs, they created chances from left flank and had better share of the attacks. Still the goals eluded them. First Lalit Upadhyay’s forehand from left of the circle hit the other post, and then an alert Ajitesh Roy made a couple of goaline saves.
In the early moments of second quarter, Sukhwinder Singh added another when a rebound landed right on his footsteps in the third penalty corner drill. The goalie was already beaten and laid on the ground as Sukhwinder kept his shot high and deceptive.
However, livewire Affan Yousaf breathed life into the Badshahs four minutes into the lemon time. Covering his ball from chasing Jiwa Mohan, Affan entered the D from the centre to hit a reverse. Five minutes later, Lalit surged into the circle from the right flank, sent a parallel pass. Pakistan’s former captain Mudassar Ali Khan, who played his first WSH encounter today, showed his class, teamed with the solid medio Waseem Ahmed to create enough chances for the Badashahs to salvage their prestige.
Badshahs coach Vasudevan Baskaran deployed a new man for executing the penalty corner in the 60th minute to a thunderous applause. Bundela played a perfect saviour role to send a grounder that brought the score to 4-3 and then posted another one six minutes before the hooter to engineer the best draw of the tournament in its three weeks of existence.
Schedule for March 25: Chennai Cheetahs vs Sher-E-Punjab at Mayor Radhakrishnan Hockey Stadium, Chennai, 7pm; Bhopal Badshahs vs Mumbai Marines at Bhopal; 9pm. Live on Neo Sports
Nimbus Sport aims at creating mass-level awareness about Hockey; to invest around Rs 25 crore in India
PIMPRI-CHINCHWAD: A joint initiative between the Indian Hockey Federation (IHF) and Nimbus Sport, World Series Hockey (WSH) was conceived to reinvigorate the game in India and make it the “sport of choice” for young Indians. With a total prize purse of approximately $2 million, the WSH will be an annual event with a multi-city franchise-based model. The inaugural hockey tournament is being played by eight teams in seven cities across India.
The first match held in the Pune zone on March 7 between Pune Strykers Vs Bhopal Badshahs received a tremendous response. “Through this WSH platform, the branding of Pimpri-Chinchwad was enhanced as these matches are shown live in around 30 countries on multiple-media platforms,” president of Pune District Hockey Federation and local coordinator for IHF Rajesh Pillay said.
He said the poly-grass ground was lying idle for more than 13 years. “It was due to this event that the stadium came to life again. We have received monetary support from Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) of around Rs 3 crore. The funds were utilised for installing floodlights and improving the stadium’s general infrastructure. The Federation is thankful to PCMC Commissioner Asheesh Sharma for support,” Mr Pillay added.
Talking about the selection of Pimpri’s stadium, Yannick Colaco, COO of Nimbus Sport, said his company will give the stadium an international look. “We will be investing heavily for the upgradation of stadium with a long-term vision and contract that it will be available for our sports activity. There were two options: Pimpri or Balewadi stadium. Since Pimpri-Chinchwad administration was cooperative, we selected Pimpri stadium. Also Khadki, close to Pimpri-Chinchwad, had produced eminent hockey players like Dhanraj Pillay and Vikram Pillay. We had to create awareness about the sport and even check with the emerging new generation of hockey players,” he said.
WSH and IHF have jointly announced a mega incentive to motivate Indian hockey players to ‘Strive for Gold’ in the 2012 London Olympics. The current hockey ecosystem needs to be streamlined to ensure players are looked after well and their remuneration is substantially corrected. The legacy of Indian hockey at the Olympics is unmatched, with the national team winning 11 medals, including eight gold medals.
Mr Colaco said: “WSH is a definite game-changer for hockey players in India and across the world. WSH has ensured that the time for hockey players to take the centre-stage is finally here. By offering the highest prize money and creating an environment where players compete with the best in the world, youngsters can finally consider hockey as a viable profession in sports.”
Nimbus has been a major force promoting cricket in India. Two years back, however, it decided to focus on viable models for other games like hockey and golf.
Mr Colaco regretted that the Indian government is not bothered to promote any sports other than cricket in India. “WSH is proud to lead the entire transformation process in Indian hockey and is committed to motivate hockey players to perform at the highest level,” he added.
A significant guaranteed investment into infrastructure and players will give the game a big boost. The action-packed league of 61 matches, featuring 200 players from India and around the world, will be televised live. With a total investment of around Rs 25 crore in India, Nimbus Sport aims at creating mass-level awareness about the national sport.
Apart from Pimpri, matches are also played at Jalandhar, Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore, Bhopal and Chandigarh. The inaugural edition of the league comprises eight teams from Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Chandigarh, Pune, Bhopal, Punjab, Ranchi and Rourkela.
“We have been successful in creating a strong sporting branding based on ‘In India, For India’. The ratings of the first week are a clear testimony that hockey is the only sport after cricket that can deliver a national viewership. The awareness and buzz around WSH were unprecedented across all touch points, including social media. The response from the commercial ecosystem has been overwhelming with brands like Bridgestone, Vodafone, Seagram’s Imperial Blue, Coke, etc. on board,” Mr Colaco added
Chennai Warsi’s second home
There was a deathly silence at the MRK Stadium when Imran Warsi of Chennai Cheetahs was carried off the field after a collision with a Bhopal Badshahs player during a World Series Hockey match on Tuesday.
Chennai fans, however, regrouped soon as they belted out the name of the Pakistani ace. The cries of “Warsi, Warsi” rented the air again when the Cheetah returned to action after treatment on the sidelines.
There was no surprise that the Cheetahs fans have warmed up to Warsi, who has taken the WSH by storm through his deadly drag flicks. The handsome Pakistani is the man with the Midas touch. Warsi has contributed 15 of Chennai’s 32 goals in 10 matches. The drag flicker leads second-placed Gurjinder Singh of Chandigarh by four goals on the scoring charts. Warsi is a red-hot favourite for the golden stick at the inaugural WSH.
Warsi has scored at least a goal in each of Chennai’s four home matches so far. When the Cheetahs endured a poor run at the MRK Stadium, Warsi’s penalty corner prowess gave the fans some solace. It was the Pakistani’s precision that paved the way for his team’s maiden win at home on Tuesday. Barring Chennai’s away match at Bhopal, the Pakistani has scored in every game.
Warsi said he was not willing to bask in the limelight. “Hockey is a team game and the goals of an individual shouldn’t become the talking point. I play for the name (Chennai Cheetahs) printed on the front of my jersey. The name on the back (Warsi) is immaterial to me. The performance of the Cheetahs is more important to me than personal glory. We will continue to do well because there is unity in the team,” he added.
The drag flicker enjoys the responsibility of leading Chennai’s charge. “The event is taxing with a tight schedule. I know my team look up to me to deliver whenever we get a penalty corner. It is difficult to live up to their expectations all the time, but I always give my best. Whenever I pull on a Cheetahs shirt, I feel like I’m playing for Pakistan,” he said.
Warsi said he was moved by the gesture of fans when he got injured in the Bhopal match. “I was energised by the affection of our fans. Without the support of fans, no team can flourish. We have the best set of fans in the WSH. The atmosphere in our home matches is terrific.
The Cheetahs owner L.T. Nanwani ensures that the players are comfortable. I feel completely at home in Chennai. I would love to remain a part of the Cheetahs in the next edition of the WSH,” he added.
Even for a professional hockey player, being away from home can be difficult at times. Warsi felt a twinge of sadness on Thursday (March 22) because it was his wife’s birthday. “My wife is in Russia now and she would have loved to have me around on her birthday. I’m fortunate that I have caring and loving team-mates in Chennai,” he said.
Warsi said he is privileged to have Jose Brasa as coach. “He is one of the best coaches I have played under. Brasa is passionate. At the same time, he never loses his composure. He has certainly brought out the best in me. I will always be grateful to him,” he added.
According to the Pakistani, the WSH has become a huge hit in his native country. “The live telecast of matches on Neo is a boon to hockey lovers in Pakistan. My family members never miss a Cheetahs match. TV coverage and monetary benefits are key to the development of the game. Nimbus has done excellent work to run the WSH,” he said.
Warsi said the WSH would throw up new stars for Indian hockey. “I know how the PHL became a platform for many young players to showcase their talent. The WSH is an even better stage. I see many future stars in the Chennai squad such as Sinclair, Vikas, Raja, Santosh, Sivamani, Ekka and Hamza,” he added.
The bonhomie in the Cheetahs ranks was evident during a practice session at the MRK Stadium some days ago. When Deccan Chronicle photographer approached Warsi for a portrait shot, the Pakistani directed him to Raja, saying that the Tamil Nadu player is the Rajnikanth of the team! WSH action today
(Live on Neo Sports) Pune Strykers vs Mumbai Marines (7pm); Karnataka Lions vs Sher-E-Punjab (9pm)
WSH: Team wise match results (after 10 matches each)
S.No Date Res Team F T
1 2.3.2012 dt Karnataka Lions 3 — 2
2 3.3.2012 lt Pune Strykers 1 — 3
3 5.3.2012 lt Cheenai Cheetas 2 — 5
4 7.3.2012 dt Sher-e-Punjab 2 — 1
5 9.3.2012 lt Bhopal Badshahs 1 — 2
6 11.3.2012 dr Mumbai Marines 2 — 2
7 14.3.2012 lt Chandigarh Comets 0 — 1
8 15.3.2012 dt Bhopal Badshahs 3 — 1
9 19.3.2012 dt Mumbai Marines 2 — 1
10 20.3..2012 lt Chandigarh Comets 2 — 3
Goals For: 18
Goals Against: 21
S.No Date Res Team F T
1 1.3.2012 dt Chennai Cheetas 5 — 2
2 3.3.2012 dt Karnatka Lions 6 — 1
3 4.3.2012 dr Pune Strykers 3 — 3
4 7.3.2012 dr Delhi Wizards 1 — 2
5 8.3.2012 lt Chandigarh Comets 1 — 3
6 10.3.2012 dt Bhopal Badshahs 3 — 2
7 14.3.2012 dt Mumbai Marines 3 — 2
8 16.3.2012 dt Chandigarh Comets 5 — 2
9 17.3.2012 dt Bhopal Badshahs 4 — 3
10 21.3.2012 dt Mumbai Marines 2 — 1
Goals For: 33
Goals Against: 21
S.No Date Res Team F T
1 29.2.2012 lt Bhopal Badshahs 3 — 4
2 3.3.2012 lt Chennai Cheetas 3 — 5
3 4.3.2012 dt Mumbai Marines 5 — 2
4 6.3.2012 lt Karnataka Lions 2 — 3
5 8.3.2012 dt Sher-e-Punjab 3 — 1
6 11.3.2012 dt Pune Strykers 3 — 1
7 14.3.2012 dt Delhi Wizards 1 — 0
8 16.3.2012 lt Sher-e-Punjab 2 — 5
9 19.3.2012 dt Pune Strykers 4 — 3
10 20.3.2012 dt Delhi Wizards 3 — 2
Goals For: 29
Goals Against: 26
S.No Date Res Team F T
1 29.2.2012 dt Chandigarh Comets 4 — 3
2 2.3.2012 lt Mumbai Marines 0 — 1
3 5.3.2012 dt Karnataka Lions 3 — 1
4 7.3.2012 dr Pune Strykers 1 — 1
5 9.3.2012 dt Delhi Wizards 2 — 1
6 10.3.3012 lt Sher-e-Punjab 2 — 3
7 12.3.2012 dt Chennai Cheetas 3 — 1
8 15.3.2012 lt Delhi Wizards 1 — 3
9 17.3.2012 lt Sher-e-Punjab 3 — 4
10 20.3.2012 lt Chennai Cheetas 1 — 4
Goals For: 20
Goals Against: 22
S.No Date Res Team F T
1 1.3.2012 dt Pune Strykers 5 — 7
2 2.3.212 dt Bhopal Badshahs 1 — 0
3 4.3.2012 lt Chandigarh Dinamos 2 — 5
4 6.3.2012 dt Chennai Cheetas 4 — 2
5 8.3.2012 dt Karnatka Lions 2 — 1
6 11.3.2012 dr Delhi Wizards 2 — 2
7 14.3.2012 lt Sher-e-Punjab 2 — 3
8 16.3.2012 lt Karnatka Lions 2 — 4
9 19.3.2012 lt Delhi Wizards 1 — 2
10 21.3.2012 lt Sher-e-Punjab 1 — 2
Goals For: 22
Goals Against: 28
S.No Date Res Team F T
1 1.3.2012 dt Mumbai Marnies 7 — 5
2 3.3.2012 dt Delhi Wizards 3 — 1
3 4.3.2012 dr Sher-e-Punjab 3 — 3
4 7.3.2012 dr Bhopal Badshahs 1 — 1
5 9.3.2012 dr Chennai Cheetas 3 — 3
6 11.3.2012 lt Chandigarh Comets 1 — 3
7 12.3.2012 dt Karanatka Lions 3 — 2
8 15.3.2012 lt Chennai Cheetas 1 — 3
9 19.3.2012 lt Chandigarh Comets 3 — 4
10 21.3.2012 lt Karanatka Lions 2 — 3
Goals For: 27
Goals Against: 28
S.No Date Res Team F T
1 2.3.2012 lt Delhi Wizards 2 — 3
2 3.3.2012 lt Sher-e-Punjab 1 — 6
3 5.3.2012 lt Bhopal Badshahs 1 — 3
4 6.3.2012 dt Chandigarh Comets 3 — 2
5 8.3.2012 lt Mumbai Marines 1 — 2
6 10.3.2012 dt Chennai Cheetas 5 — 3
7 12.3.2012 lt Pune Strykers 2 — 3
8 16.3.2012 dt Mumbai Marines 4 — 2
9 17.3.2012 lt Chennai Cheetas 1 — 4
10 21.3.2012 dt Pune Strykers 3 — 2
Goals For: 23
Goals Against: 30
S.No Date Res Team F T
1 1.3.2012 lt Sher-e-Punjab 2 — 5
2 3.3.2012 dt Chandigarh Comets 5 — 3
3 5.3.2012 dt Delhi Wizards 5 — 2
4 6.3.2012 lt Mumbai Marines 2 — 4
5 9.3.2012 dr Pune Strykers 3 — 3
6 10.3.2012 lt Karnataka Lions 3 — 5
7 12.3.2012 lt Bhopal Badshahs 1 — 3
8 15.3.2012 dt Pune Strykers 3 — 1
9 17.3.2012 dt Karnataka Lions 4 — 1
10 20.3.2012 dt Bhopal Badshahs 4 — 1
Goals For: 32
Goals Against: 28
WSH: Results of first 20 days, 40 matches WSH: Results of first 20 days, 40 matches
Match No. Date Team 1 Result Team 2 F T
1 29.2.2012 Bhopal Badshahs dt Chandigarh Comets : 4 — 3
2 1.3.2012 Sher-e-Punjab dt Chennai Chitas : 5 — 2
3 1.3.2012 Pune Strykers dt Mumbai Marines : 7 — 5
4 2.3.2012 Delhi Wizards dt Karnataka Lions : 3 — 2
5 2.3.2012 Mumbai Marines dt Bhopal Badshahs : 1 — 0
6 3.3.2012 Sher-e-Punjab dt Karnataka Lions : 6 — 1
7 3.3.2012 Chennai Cheetahs dt Chandigarh Comets : 5 — 3
8 3.3.2012 Pune Strykers dt Delhi Wizards : 3 — 1
9 4.3.2012 Sher-e-Punjab dr Pune Strykers : 3 — 3
10 4.3.2012 Chandigarh Comets dt Mumbai Marines : 5 — 2
11 5.3.2012 Bhopal Badshahs dt Karnataka Lions : 3 — 1
12 5.3.2012 Chennai Cheetahs dt Delhi Wizards : 5 — 2
13 6.3.2012 Mumbai Marines dt Chennai Chitas : 4 — 2
14 6.3.2012 Karnataka Lions dt Chandigarh Comets : 3 — 2
15 7.3.2012 Delhi Wizards dt Sher-e-Punjab : 2 — 1
16 7.3.2012 Pune Strykers dr Bhopal Badshahs : 1 — 1
17 8.3.2012 Chandigarh Comets dt Sher-e-Punjab : 3 — 1
18 8.3.2012 Mumbai Marines dt Karnataka Lions : 2 — 1
19 9.3.2012 Chennai Cheetahs dr Pune Strykers : 3 — 3
20 9.3.2012 Bhopal Badshahs dt Delhi Wizards : 2 — 1
21 10.3.2012 Karnataka Lions dt Chennai Chitas : 5 — 3
22 10.3.2012 Sher-e-Punjab dt Bhopal Badshahs : 3 — 2
23 11.3.2012 Chandigarh Comets dt Pune Strykers : 3 — 1
24 11.3.2012 Mumbai Marines dr Delhi Wizards : 2 — 2
25 12.3.2012 Pune Strykers dt Karnataka Lions : 3 — 2
26 12.3.2012 Bhopal Badshahs dt Chennai Chitas : 3 — 1
27 14.3.2012 Sher-e-Punjab dt Mumbai Marines : 3 — 2
28 14.3.2012 Chandigarh Comets dt Delhi Wizards : 1 — 0
29 15.3.2012 Chennai Cheetahs dt Pune Strykers : 3 — 1
30 15.3.2012 Delhi Wizards dt Bhopal Badshahs : 3 — 1
31 16.3.2012 Sher-e-Punjab dt Chandigarh Comets : 5 — 2
32 16.3.2012 Karnataka Lions dt Mumbai Marines : 4 — 2
33 17.3.2012 Sher-e-Punjab dt Bhopal Badshahs : 4 — 3
34 17.3.2012 Chennai Cheetahs dt Karnataka Lions : 4 — 1
35 18.3.2012 Chandigarh Comets dt Pune Strykers : 4 — 3
36 18.3.2012 Delhi Wizards dt Mumbai Marines : 2 — 1
37 20.3.2012 Chandigarh Comets dt Delhi Wizards : 3 — 2
38 20.3.2012 Chennai Cheetahs dt Bhopal Badshahs : 4 — 1
39 21.3.2012 Sher-e-Punjab dt Mumbai Marines : 2 — 1
40 21.3.2012 Karnataka Lions dt Pune Strykers : 3 — 2
Chennai Cheetahs beat Bhopal Badshahs 4-1
CHENNAI: Chennai Cheetahs scored an emphatic 4-1 victory over Bhopal Badshahs to register their third straight win in the Bridgestone World Series Hockey tournament on Tuesday.
In all counts, it was a convincing win for the hosts as they controlled the game well and managed to gain nine penalty corners despite a strong defence and excellent saves from goalkeeper Baljit Singh.
After Pakistani centre-half Waseem Ahmed drew the first blood in the third minute, Pakistan’s ace drag flicker Syed Imran Warsi found the equaliser from their third penalty corner in the fifth minute.
The second quarter proved to be barren as the teams enjoyed equal share of ball possession. In the third quarter, the main Cheetah’s player, Vikram Pillay successfully converted a penalty stroke in the 53rd minute when a Warsi drag flick brushed the left shoulder of a defender close to the left post and TV replays helped umpire to decide the verdict.
In the 62nd minute, Adam Sinclaire scored the third goal for Cheetahs and Vikam Pillay made it 4-1 in the 67th minute.
Warsi has scored 15 goals in the tournament so far.
Cheetahs cruise past Badshahs
Pulsating in patches and prosaic for the major part, the key contest between Chennai Cheetahs and Bhopal Badshahs provided a mixed fare in the World Series Hockey (WSH) here on Tuesday.
Quite predictably, the outcome, a 4-1 victory for Cheetahs, warmed the cockles of many a local heart. There was a fairly large turn-out for the late match.
With 16 points from 10 matches, the Chennai outfit is cruising towards a semifinal berth. True, the trajectory to traverse is not going to be easy. Going ahead
Stunned by a second minute goal by Waseem, who provided the finishing touches to an immaculate cross from Samir Dad, Chennai Cheetahs had to stage a fight back.
And it did that in style, with its trump card Imran Warsi pumping in the equaliser amidst spontaneous cheers.
But goals were hard to come by thereafter, notwithstanding the heavy pressure that the Chennai team built in the rival zone. Adam Sinclair and Reardon, prompted brilliantly by veteran Vikram Pillay, bemused the defenders. Amandeep Ekka and Vikas Sharma lent him admirable support.
As many as five — four of them in a row — surfaced, heightening the expectations of the crowd.
But goalkeeper Baljit Singh showed a commendable sense of equanimity, denying the Chennai team any hint of success.
Though not consistent to the point of upsetting the rival defenders, the Bhopal team punctured holes thanks to the quick surges by Yusaff Affan and Cheeyyanna.
The main striker Laxman Baskaran strove manfully without much support from the flanks.
Progressively, however, Chennai Cheetahs regained the initiative. A facial injury to Warsi raised some concerns, but the doughty warrior returned after medical attention. A fierce penalty corner shot found Ajay Saroha in the way, but the ball deflected into the net. Referral
There was a referral to the third umpire, who awarded a stroke which Vikram Pillay converted with palpable glee.
In the lead, Chennai Cheetahs propelled itself to top gear. Adam Sinclair came up with a peach of a goal, following a rebound, after Baljit Singh had staved off a penalty corner shot by Warsi. Riding on the crest of confidence in the final minutes, Chennai scored another goal following a penalty corner.
Chennai Cheetahs 4 (Imran Warsi, Vikram Pillay 2, Adam Sinclair) bt Bhopal Badshahs 1 (Waseem)