SAJJAD HAFEEZ: LAHORE – BMA Capital Army snatched victory from jaws of defeat in an epic comeback to down Bank Alfalah by 12-11 in the final of the National Polo Championship for the Quaid-i-Azam Gold Cup at the Garrison ground Sunday afternoon.
Hissam Ali Hyder was the nemesis for the star-studded Bank Alfalah with 10 goals to his name including a hat-trick. Bank Alfalah were favourites even before the match, and when they led 11-5 by the end of the fourth chukker, nobody would have thought that BMA capital would win the title.
The match started with an exquisite field goal from Shah Shamyl Alam. The ball and pony control, and of course the body language, suggested that Bank Alfalah were going to win it. Shamyl was in prime form and so was Qublai, that is not to mention Usman Haye playing at number one and Panzalo Pucchi at number two.
Starting the second chukker 2-1, the Bank Alfalah side went up when Qublai smashed a beautiful goal. Hissam Ali Hyder, in the next minute, made a move as the ball brushed past the goalpost but the opportunity went begging. But when the Bank side were awarded a spot penalty in the next minute, Qublai made no mistake and it was 3-2 now. The goal was followed by another missed opportunity this time by Usman Haye. In the next minute Hissam, the best striker for BMA Capital it 3-3 off a 40-yard penalty hit. Panzalo Pucchi was there to show his class, striking a splendid field goal that it 4-3 up for his team. And now it was again Hissam scoring the leveler after snatching ball from Shamyl in what was a defensive move, and eventually made it look so easy after a long chase. Just after the penultimate whistle was blown and with five seconds remaining in the chukker, a penalty was awarded to Bank Alfalah which extended the timing to a few seconds but it bore no result, though it exhausted more minutes.
Now 4-4 to start the third chukker, the sides were poised for a spicy encounter. Bank Alfalah were the first to lift their game and almost took the game away from the opponents. Qublai started the chukker opener with a beautiful lofted 60-yard penalty hit. This was followed by what can arguably be said the goal of the match by Shah Shamyl Alam. The ball was smashed into the goalpost after a long chase and just when the defenders jostled around, Shamyl swung the mallet and the ball went flying into the goal about 60 yards from in the midfield. The seventh for Bank Alfalah was through Usman Haye, another field goal after a long chase and off gentle tapping and perfect control. Qublai also showed no mercy when he came to hit another 60-yarder and in a matter of minutes it was 8-4. This was where the Bank side started to show some laxity as Shamyl missed an easy opportunity – a good omen for struggling BMA Capital at that stage. But Panzalo Pucchi, meanwhile, scored the ninth for Bank Alfalah, another field goal.
Having been 9-4 down, BMA Capital got their act together and it was again Hissam in action flawlessly converting a 60-yard penalty. Usman Haye followed it a couple of field goals to make it 11-5 and it seemed as if the match is over. But this was the last from Bank Alfalah as it was BMA onwards. Hissam started off the journey of ending the five goal deficit by a 60-yard hit, following by a field goal and then Hipwood Howard converted two consecutive goals within a matter of two minutes. It was 11-9 now. The lead was manageable now and Hissam rose to occasion, first hitting an excellent angular shot after a long chase and then executing an exquisite under-the-neck-shot. The score was now tied at 11-11. BMA Capital got a 60-yard penalty and Hissam hurled a lofted shot which was miraculously defended by Shamyl as he raised his mallet to the maximum. But Hissam made it impossible for the second time and it was the final goal. Meanwhile, Hipwood Howard had.
Source: Daily Jang