Mumbai: Sher-e-Punjab won the first Brigestone World Series hokey title with a 5-2 over Pune Strykers at Mahindra Hockey Stadium, Mumbai, a metropolitan of India, here on Monday.
In the end, the best team won. After 329 goals, 59 matches, and 34 days of pulsating action, Sher-e-Punjab proved why they were rated among the pre-tournament favourites.
The Punjab side, which clearly looked the better of the eight teams throughout the league phase of the event, continued their winning momentum with another dominating display and gave no chance to ‘Comeback Kings’ Strykers to stage another come-from-behind coup.
Shers skipper Prabhjot Singh led from the front with a fine brace, with Deepak Thakur, VS Vinay and Harpreet Singh adding to the tally. For Strykers, Tyron Pereira and Simrandeep Randhawa were the scorers.
The opening quarter set the tone of the final. Even before the capacity crowd could settle down in their seats, Strykers had shot into lead, when Tyron Pereira’s cross from the right got deflected in. The match was just into its second minute. The Pune side’s joy, though, was short-lived as VS Vinay neutralized the lead off the Shers’ first penalty-corner just a minute later. The indirect drill found Vinay in perfect position to bang in a blinder. Attacks were swift, and swifter still were the counters, but a goal kept eluding both sides.
The second quarter too seemed like taking a goalless path, till Deepak Thakur made the packed stadium erupt with a breathtaking strike just two minutes to the half-time buzzer. The former India forward displayed great reflex in effecting a reverse-hit that gave no chance to Strykers goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Guri (2-1). Shers continued in the same tempo and could have scored at least two more goals, but for the heroics of Guri under the Strykers’ bar. They eventually triumphed 5-2.
WSH Golden Stick (Rs 25 lakh): Syed Imran Warsi of Chennai Cheetahs & Gurjinder Singh of Chandigarh Comets (19 goals apiece).
WSH Game Changer (Rs 25 lakh): Shakeel Abbasi of Delhi Wizards.
It is to be mentioned here that earlier FIH, HI and PHF warned players looking to participate in the WSH that they will be suspended from international matches as the event was unsanctioned.