Mumbai: Sher-E-Punjab tonight justified their top billing by coming from a goal down to trounce Pune Strykers 5-2 to lift the inaugural World Series Hockey crown in front of a packed gathering at the MHA-Mahindra Stadium here.
Stunned by an early field goal scored from what looked to be an impossible angle by Strykers' Tyron Pereira, Sher-E-Punjab players fought back in brilliant style through their experienced campaigners and ex-internationals Deepak Thakur and Prabhjot Singh, the captain who scored twice.
The Punjab goal scorers, who soaked up the pressure of their younger and speedier rivals very well in the first half and led 2-1, were V S Vinaya (6th minute), Thakur (33rd), Prabhjot (47th and 66th minutes) and Harpreet Singh (57th).
Simrandeep Randhawa notched a consolation penalty corner goal for the losing team in the last minute of the summit clash to reduce the margin of defeat.
While the first half saw an evenly contested game, the Punjab team totally took control of the proceedings in the latter half to emerge convincing winners of the first edition of the eight-team tournament that began on February 29.
The winners received Rs 4 crore and the runners-up Rs 2 crore. The losing semi-finalists Chandigarh Comets and Karnataka Lions ֖ got Rs one crore each.
Strykes, who had come back from the brink of defeat in the semi-final against Chandigarh Comets last night, started the match in brilliant fashion by making the first foray deep into the rival half and got a splendid goal in the process.
Tyron Pereira scooped over all the defenders and custodian Sukhjit Singh into the goal from a very acute angle on the right, with no one expecting such a shot to give the Strykers the early lead in the 4th minute.
However, the advantage for Pune was short-lived as the Punjab outfit restored parity in the very next minute from their first penalty corner award taken in an indirect manner, with V S Vinaya finding the mark to the left of a flummoxed Strykers goalie Gurpreet Singh Guri.
Sher-E-Punjab, who topped the league stage of the competition, looked to have secured the trophy when Harpreet Singh sounded the board with an effective penalty corner essay, the seventh set-piece earned by them, to put the team 4-1 ahead in the 57th minute.
The Strykers strove hard to get back into the game like they had done so brilliantly yesterday, but the Punjab outfit prevented them with some robust defending.
Prabhjot then sealed victory with a brilliant goal after a solo run, reverse hitting the ball past the rival goalkeeper into the roof of the net to give his side an unassailable 5-1 lead with four minutes left.
The second goal for Pune by Simrandeep, off their third short corner award, came too late to make any difference.