Hockey: Indian Oil storm into semis

Chennai, Sep 18 (IANS) Joint holders Indian Oil Corporation Ltd (IOCL) held off a battling Army XI 6-3 to qualify for the semifinals of the of the 88th All-India MCC-Murugappa Gold Cup hockey tournament here Wednesday.

Unbeaten IOCL finished their pool A engagements with 12 points while Indian Overseas Bank with nine points, joined them in the knock-out stage.

IOCL need to thank their international stars Deepak Thakur and penalty corner specialist Raghunath who scored twice each while Roshan Minz and Prabhjoth Singh also got into the act.

Army XI, who needed to win, scored through Chanan Aind (2) and Benoy Bhengra, before finishing third in the pool with six points.

Meanwhile, last year's joint winners Air India kept themselves in the running for a semi-final berth with an unconvincing 2-1 win over Punjab National Bank for their second win in three pool B matches.

Air India, with six points, next play Bharat Petroleum who too have six in their concluding league fixture while Punjab National Bank finished on nine points, and despite Wednesday's defeat, are certain to qualify for the knock-out phase.

In a tight match, Air India took a 2-0 lead when former India forward Shivendra Singh struck in the sixth minute and Somanna Pradhan found the boards in the 23rd. PNB fought hard in the second-half, but could score only once through Ajitesh Roy in the 65th minute.

Earlier, in an inconsequential pool B match, Indian Bank edged out SAIL, Rourekela, 7-6 as both completed their league engagements on three points. The bankmen finished last on inferior goal-difference and a run lower than SAIL.

Former international V Raja with four goals spearheaded Indian Bank's victory while Pilip Martin, Umesh and E Charles scored one apiece.

For SAIL, Deepak Kullu topped the scoring with three goals with Rajin Kandulna, Sunil Toppo and David Dung Dung added one each.