Imphal: In a keenly contested final played in Imphal on Thursday, Manipur defeated England 7-4 to lift the 12th Manipur Polo International 2018.
The English team made the local boys fight for every inch of the field and every goal. Though they might be disappointed at losing, they should take heart from the fact that they have been making steady progress every year and have made it all the way to the final this time around.
Just 14 seconds into the match, Manipur scored their first goal when P Ojit collected a ball from Kaoba and shot ahead and tapped in. Then in the 2.11th minute, Kaoba intercepted a backhand from Ben Eeley near the English goal and shot home to make it 2-0. Ben pulled one back for England with a beautiful 60 yards penalty in the 4.53rd minute. Ojit had another good chance of scoring another goal in this chukker but George Amor saved his shot at the goal line. The first chukker ended with Manipur leading 2-1.
Early in the second chukker, Ojit had another golden opportunity to add another goal when he latched on to a missed backhander from Ben Eeley but his shot missed the goal by a whisker. Then in the 2.44th minute, Bimol managed to snatch the ball from George Shelton and shot home stretching the team’s lead to 3-1. In the 3.27th minute George Amor picked up a loose ball and fired in to narrow the lead to one goal. But just when it looked like the English team would catch up, Pradeep came to the party and scored the fourth goal for the host team.
The third chukker was evenly matched and both the teams added two goals each to their tally. But this was not good enough for the English team, taking into account the way the local lads were playing, they needed to narrow down the lead going into the last chukker. For Manipur, Kaoba scored in the 3.06th minute but seconds later Henry Amor scored for England in the 3.27th minute. Then his brother George put in another one to make it 4-5. But Ojit yet again scored for Manipur to maintain a comfortable lead of two goals. The score read 6-4 at the end of the 3rd chukker.
The last chukker also turned out to be very hard fought one. Fortune swung from one side to the other, defense turning into attack and vice versa. It was only towards the end of the chukker that Ojit managed to pick up a pass from Kaoba shot in to score his third goal. Manipur won 7-4 to lift the 12th Manipur Polo International 2018.