| THAKUR: Late strike
Calcutta: On a day of upsets, defending champions Punjab Police and runners-up CRPF crashed out of the Indian Oil Servo Beighton Cup on Sunday.
In an evenly-contested match, CRPF lost to BSF Jalandhar 1-2, while a late Deepak Thakur strike proved enough for Indian Oil to throw Punjab Police out of the competition at Mohun Bagan ground.
Punjab and Sind Bank (PSB), having already made it to the last four, took the lead twice before settling for a 2-2 truce with Air India at East Bengal ground. Army XI prevailed over Bombay XI 2-0 and completed the semi-final line-up.
PSB topped group A with seven points and will face Indian Oil (6) in the semi-finals. Group B leaders Army XI (7) will take on BSF (6) in the other clash.
Punjab Police had only themselves to blame for failing to make the next stage. They needed just a draw to advance while their opponents had no option but an outright win to stay afloat.
The defending champions, without seven regulars, never really looked a domineering side. They adopted a waiting game, perhaps knowing a point would suffice. They earned as many as four penalty corners before the break, but none produced a goal.
In the 47th minute, Lakhwinder delivered a pass to Deepak on the right and the India forward sounded the board with a powerful hit taken from the edge of the striking circle.
Earlier, Sushil Kujur scored a double (in the 11th and 18th minutes) as BSF sent CRPF packing. The last year’s finalists managed to pull one back, thanks to Rajesh Kindo’s 67-minute conversion of a penalty corner, but they were never convincing.
Air India and PSB players got involved in a post-match fracas. According to witnesses, Air India’s Gurmeet Singh was leaving the field when some PSB players started heckling him.
In their complaint to the organisers, Air India accused three PSB players of roughing up Gurmeet.