Mumbai: Pune Strykers came back from the dead to edge out Chandigarh Comets 7-6 via tie-break in a rousing semi-final of the inaugural World Series Hockey in Mumbai on Sunday night.
Strykers made a grand rally from 1-4 to draw level in regular time, their last goal came from their eighth penalty corner scored by Simrandeep Singh, and then edged out the Comets 3-2 in the tie-break for a grand entry into Monday's final against Sher-E-Punjab in Mumbai.
The Strykers were in fact trailing 0-1 in the shoot-out too, after the teams were level at the end of 70 minutes split into four quarters, before winning the tie-break for a place in the summit contest. Sher-E-Punjab ousted Karnataka Lions 4-1 in the first semi-final held at Bangalore earlier on Sunday.
The goal-getters in regular period for the Comets were Gurjinder Singh (4th minute), Ramandeep Singh (9th minute), Sher Singh (40th minute) and captain Rehan Butt (41 minute) while Mario Almada (8th minute), Tyron Pereira (46 minute), Bikash Topo (58 minute) and Simrandeep Singh Randhawa (70th minute). The final is scheduled on Monday at 9 PM.
The match commenced at a fast pace with Strykers making inroads deep into the rival half in the first minute. Put through on the right flank, speedy and skillful Mario Almada shot on the run just wide of the right post. The Comets took the lead after forcing their first penalty corner, Gurjunder Singh finding the roof of the net with his drag-flick, leaving Strykers custodian Gurpreet Singh Guri with no chance in stopping it.
The penalty corner specialist also joined Chennai Cheetahs' Imran Warsi as the top scorer in the tournament with that splendid effort, that fetched him his 19th strike in the event.
Almada, who impressed right through the game with his superb stick work, body feints and pace, earned Strykers their first penalty corner with a dash down the right flank and a cut into the striking circle where he was obstructed, but Simrandeep Singh Randhawa could not find the target with his drag-flick.
But the Strykers equalised soon after the miss by Randhawa, fittingly through Argentinian Almada, who was lying in wait near a crowded goalmouth to deflect home a centre from the left sent in by Roshan Minz with a reverse hit.
Today's Final (April 2)
9.00 PM IST: Sher-e-Punjab Vs Pune Strykers (Mumbai)