Delhi Wizards finished their campaign in the Bridgestone World Series Hockey with a flourish by humbling a depleted Sher-E-Punjab side by a 7-5 margin in their concluding pool match played at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium in the national capital which saw a hat-trick scored on each side.
While the Shers roared through Gagandeep Singh, Karanjit Singh and a Prabhjot Singh hattrick , the Wizards replied through a hattrick by skipper Shakeel Abassi, a brace by Vivek Gupta and a goal each by Victo Singh and Rajpal Singh. The hosts could have swelled their tally further but failed to convert any of the eight penalty corners that they forced.
As a result of their fourth win, Darryl D’Souza’s side finished sixth with 19 points while the huge loss forced Rajinder Singh’s wards to remain in second position with 25 points, three behind table toppers Chandigarh Comets.
Despite resting some of their key players, Punjab opened the account in the 9th minute when Gagandeep hit the target after Karanjit had set him up with a lovely pass back from the baseline. The Wizards equalised in the 14th minute through Victo Singh who beat Dinesh Ekka with a drive that landed in the corner of the boards. In between, skipper Shakeel Abassi was unlucky to see his flick bounce off the post from a penalty corner variation in the 11th minute.
However, the ceaseless raids that the Wizards bore fruit and they went into the lead in the 29th minute when Vivek Gupta’s top of the circle shot was unfortunately deflected into the goal by Inderjeet Singh. However Prabhjot made it 2-2 in the 31st minute with a cracking reverse shot that whizzed past Kamaldeep Singh in a flash.
It was then left to charismatic home skipper Shakeel Abassi to wrest back the initiative with a double strike, the first off a sweetly timed deflection in the 38th minute and the second by pouncing on a rebound off Dinesh Ekka’s pads and scooping it into the net. He completed his hat-trick by converting a penalty stroke in the 61st minute when he was fouled as he tried to take a shott at goal.
It looked like the Wizards were running away with the match but Prabhjot came up with two late strikes to make the margin of defeat look more respectable and restore their confidence partially before their semi-final appearance in Mumbai on Sunday.