Gurwinder Singh Chandi may be out of the national team but going by his performance at the ongoing Nehru hockey tournament here so far, his employers ONGC will not be complaining.
On Thursday, he gave further proof of why he is rated highly by scoring a hat-trick in the team's 4-2 win over Bharat Petroleum in the semi-finals. The result also put ONGC in their second successive final of the tournament.
The initial period had both teams trying to size up each other, except for an occasional foray into the other half. The first goal came in the 24th minute. After an exchange of passes between Chandi and Akashdeep Singh from the half line till inside the striking circle, the latter found his view to the goal blocked by BPCL goalkeeper Swinder Singh. Instead of taking on the keeper and a couple of defenders himself, Akashdeep passed it on the run to Chandi, who made no mistake in slotting the ball in.
The second came immediately on resumption, Chandi this time slightly lifting the ball into the net from an acute angle. A third goal four minutes later saw Chandi deflecting the ball in off a goalmouth melee.
Being 0-3 down is not a familiar situation for a team like BPCL, and they tried to regroup and go on attack. It seemed to work, Hari Prasad reducing the margin in the 48th minute, but Diwakar Ram converted a penalty corner six minutes later to make it 4-1. Though Jarnail pulled one back in the dying minutes for BPCL, they were never truly in the match, and the result reflected it.