Chandigarh:Drag-flick specialist Sandeep Singh scored two goals to help Chandigarh Dynamos edge past Sher-e-Jallandhar 2-1 in a fiercely-contested match and take the team atop the points table in the fourth Premier Hockey League (PHL) on Friday.
With this win, Chandigarh Dynamos have taken their tally to nine points from four matches. Bangalore Hi-Fliers are placed second with eight points while Sher-e-Jallandhar are tied with Orissa Steelers and Hyderabad Sultans at five points.
Dynamos' centre-half Pakistan's Ghazanfar Ali was declared the Man of the Match for his brilliant midfield play.
With their aggressive and attacking brand of hockey both local favourite teams provided thrilling moments for the 10,000-strong crowd who braved chilly weather to witness the action under floodlights at the Sector-42 Hockey stadium.
Sher-e-Jallandhar took a first look at the rival goal in the very first minute with Jarnail Singh taking a shy at it. Dynamos goalkeeper padded away Jarnail's shot, but he drew the first blood for his team in the seventh minute.
Sher-e-Jallandhar defender Jugraj Singh initiated a counter attack and sent a long ball into the rival 25-year area to feed Mandeep Singh with the ball.
Dynamos' Rajpal Singh tried to clear Mandeep's weak shot but he too fumbled with the clearance and the Jallandhar youngster Gurvinder Chandi too possession of the ball.
Chandi's hit touched a defender's stick and went to his teammate Jarnail Singh on the left of the 'circle'. Jarnail dodged past Dynamos defender Sandeep and moved in before sending a power-packed reverse hit into the goal from a narrow angle-beating custodian Baljit Singh.
Sher-e-Jallandhar fell back after the lead and started to crowd the defence even as Dynamos took control of the midfield with Ali performing admirably as a centre-half.
Ali fed the forwards consistently and controlled the tempo of the game. His good ball distribution helped Dynamos forwards Ravipal Singh and Rajpal Singh combine well with Deepak Thakur and Prabjot Singh.
They created many anxious moments in the rival defence but could not beat the crowded defence. Thakur and Prabjot were marked tightly and were denied space to play free-flowing hockey.
Dynamos' Sandeep struggled with form and was unable to launch the powerful flicks he is known for. But from the fifth penalty corner, he sent a waist-high flick to the left of goalkeeper Salman Akbar for the equaliser in the 52nd minute.
Sher-e-Jallandhar's midfield completely collapsed and they depended more on long hits as the players fell back. Though Dilawar Hussain was brilliant in the defence, he got little support from his teammates.
Dilawar was also instrumental in making two good clearances off the penalty corner rebounds and once through his dashing run during the set-piece drill.
Dynamos' sustained pressure yielded results when Sandeep found the target from the ninth and last penalty corner three minutes before the close.
Inderjit Chadha took the push and SS Gill set it up perfectly for Sandeep who, for once, got his moorings right and sent in a powerful flick to the roof of the net, past Salman Akbar.