Bhopal: Len Aiyappa came up with a brilliant hat trick as Karnataka Lions defeated hosts Bhopal Badshahs 5-2 in a high-voltage match of the inaugural World Series Hockey.
Aiyappa (31st minute, 45th, 50th) took his total tally of goals to 13 to join Gurjinder Singh at the second position of the top goal-scorers, just behind Syed Imran Warsi, who has 13 goals under his belt.
Arjun Halappa (26th) and Naveen Kumar (65th) scored two field goals to help the Lions to not only retain their third place at the points table but also reduce the goal difference. For Bhopal, Waseem Ahmad (43rd) and Karan Bhaskaran (46th) converted two penalty corners but it was not enough in the end.
Lions flourished in the second quarter and pumped in two goals to go into the break 2-0 at the half time.
The Badshahs came back all cylinders blazing in the third quarter and sounded the board twice but Aiyappa ensured the Lions had their nose ahead with two penalty corner conversions in between. There was plenty of action in the last quarter but the Lions were more dominant and they were successful in thrawting the challenges of the hosts.
Finally, Naveen Kumar found the post just five minutes off the hooter to put the final nail in their rival`s coffin.
Bhopal, at fifth position in the point table, will take on Pune Strykers on Thursday, while the Lions will lock horns with Chandigarh Comets at Chandigarh.