Sunday, January 6, 2008


The famous Hi-Fliers’ jig was back. Sandeep Micahel triggered celebration in the Bangalore Hi-Fliers’ camp after scoring from the last ‘penalty stroke’ and did the little jig which became famous in the second edition. Sandeep ran towards the team with outstretched hands, pointing fingers out and as if he was flying in the air.

Second edition’s champions Bangalore Hi-Fliers survived several anxious moments but rallied brilliantly through a Len Aiyappa brace to overcome a 0-2 lead in the regulation time and defeated defending champions Orissa Steelers 5-4 via penalty shoot-out to set-up the title-clash with Chandigarh Dynamos in the fourth edition of the Premier Hockey League at the Sector 42 Hockey Stadium here on Saturday.

Orissa Steelers took a quick 2-0 lead by the end of the first quarter but with Len Aiyappa striking a brace with his drag-flicks both the teams were tied 2-2 after the regulation time. They failed to score in the extra-time for silver goal and the match went into the tie-breaker.

Prabodh Tirkey and Roshan Minz were successful for Orissa taking a 2-0 lead as Bangalore’s Tushar Khandekar and Sebastian Weisterhoff fumbled with their attempts. But Bangalore Hi-Fliers had a second lifeline when their custodian Bharat Chhetri forced the next three players from Orissa to make mistakes. He saved Damandeep’s try and then forced Kim Chul and William Xalxo to shoot wide.

That gave a chance for the Hi-Fliers and Arjun Halappa and Vikram Kanth beat the rival goalie Diederik Mars with superb reverse scoops from the left and all eyes were on last man Sandeep Michael. The former Indian star did not disappoint his team as he dodged the goalkeeper to the left and shot into the boards to take Bangalore Hi-Fliers into the finals.

Earlier in the regulation time, Orissa took an early lead in the 11th minute forcing their first short corner. Birendra Lakra took the push and Ajitesh Rai set it up for Dilip Tirkey. However, Dilip’s direct hit deflected off the stick of the first runner and was rolling wide when Sunil Ekka dived and directed the ball into the cage to hoist the lead.

Within five minutes, Sunil Ekka scored his second goal to increase the lead for Orissa. In the 16th minute, he went on a solo run in and dodged two defenders before he entered the circle from the right. He then turned around and sent a stinging reverse hit which brooked no answer from the rival goalkeeper Bharat Chetri.

Undaunted by the reverse, Bangalore Hi-Fliers continued its raids and earned their first short corner in the 23rd minute. Tushar Khandekar’s injection saw Vikram Kanth create the platform for Len Aiyappa and the Coorgi struck the boards with a fierce flick to the right of goalkeeper Diederik.

Thereafter, Bangalore tried hard to get the equaliser but Orissa held on stubbornly in the defence. Towards the end with only eight minutes to go for the hooter, Bangalore earned their third penalty corner. Len Aiyappa, whose second short corner was blocked by the rival goalie, sent a flier into the roof of the net to push the match into extra-time.

Extra time saw intense battle between both the teams and Hi-Fliers earned two short corners too, but neither team scored and the match went into penalty shoot-out.

Bangalore Hi-Fliers’ custodian Bharat Chetri was declared man of the match.

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