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Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) came back from a two-goal deficit twice to overcome defending champion and favourite Railways Sports Promotion Board in the shootouts and win


 The triumphant IOC team with coach Deepak Thakur.

Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) came back from a two-goal deficit twice to overcome defending champion and favourite Railways Sports Promotion Board in the shootouts and win the third Hockey India senior women’s inter-department championship at the Shivaji Stadium here on Tuesday.

For long the unchallenged leader in domestic women’s hockey, Railways was stunned by the fightback from a team that was formed only last year and was participating in its first ever competition. With both sides boasting of the cream of Indian women’s hockey including a majority of national team players, it was heartening to see a sizeable crowd cheering the teams, something that has become a rarity in Delhi hockey.

Railways had the edge in experience and started strongly, attacking early and not allowing IOC any space with a tight defence.

Goalkeeper Rajni Etimarpu stood firm despite a couple of early forays by IOC and not surprisingly, it was Vandana Katariya – the only Indian woman with more than 300 international caps – who put the holder ahead in the 12th minute. Mariana Kujur got the deflection right three minutes later to go 2-0 up as the Railways girls made their intent clear.

They combined well, created gaps to constantly push ahead and tested IOC even as Deep Grace Ekka marshalled the defence brilliantly. IOC earned nine penalty corners but was thwarted repeatedly, Shilpi Dabas even making a diving goalline save towards the end.

The second half saw IOC playing more aggressively with Sharmila Devi, Rajwinder Kaur and Jyoti constantly creating chances but unable to find a way past Rajni. But every time it managed to reduce the gap, Railways found a way to hit back on the counter almost immediately.

Leading 4-2 with five minutes remaining, it looked like Railways would complete its hat-trick of titles but erred in going for the kill upfront, leaving the defence open and Rajwinder Kaur made no mistake in getting the third goal before earning a penalty corner one minute from time that Jyoti made count to take the game into penalties.

Deepika, Baljeet Kaur and Jyoti were successful in the shootout for IOC while the Railways senior pros were denied by Bichu Devi with only Sangita and Preeti Dubey managing to find the net.

In the play-off for the third place, Sports Authority of India (SAI) beat Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) 3-1.

The results:

Final: IOC 4 (Jyoti 2, Rajwinder Kaur, Sharmila Devi) bt RSPB 4 (Vandana Katariya 2, Mariana Kujur, Sangita Kumari) in shootout.

Third place: SAI 3 (Lalrindiki 2, Kavita) bt SSB 1 (Rajni Bala).

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