What’s the story?
The Delhi Waveriders recorded a fine comeback victory against the Kalinga Lancers in their third home game of the ongoing Hockey India League at the Shivaji Stadium. With just six minutes to go, they were themselves trailing 3-4 after Moritz Fuerste’s fine reverse hit finish.
However, the hosts fought back in style as skipper Rupinder Pal Singh converted a penalty corner in the 57th minute and Kiwi import Simon Child scored a poacher’s goal in the penultimate minute to give Cedric D’Souza’s men their second win in a row.
The coach was, however, quick to place much importance on the win, stating that a lot of work is still to be done. “It’s back to the drawing board for me. We were giving our opponents too much space in certain areas and it almost cost us the game. We need to rectify our mistakes if we want to qualify for the semis,” he said.
D’Souza stated that he was happy that his team scored from both field goals as well as penalty corners and explained his side’s strategy when they got the all-important penalty corner towards the end of the match. He said, “In the last quarter, we had got them (Kalinga Lancers) by the throat. We knew that if we scored directly from the short corner, we could press forward and grab the win before the final whistle. And that’s what happened!”
Rupinder Pal Singh stepped up to the mark when his team needed him the most but he was also quick to admit that there is still a lot of work to be done if his side are to lift the HIL trophy. “Over the course of this tournament, we have improved with our penalty corners. I didn’t feel too much pressure while getting ready for the shot. I actually love such situations and thrive on them,” said the 26-year-old with his trademark beaming smile.
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The Kalinga Lancers came into the match placed second on the league table, having won four out of their eight games. With this loss, they stay behind the already-qualified Dabang Mumbai team.
For the Waveriders, it is their second win in a row after a stuttering start to the season. They now sit at fifth place in the standings, two points behind Punjab with both sides haveing played six games each.
The heart of the matter
In a match that could have gone either way, it was the Delhi team that struck the killer blow at the right time. They led 3-0 at half-time thanks to an early field goal from Talwinder Singh and a short corner conversion by Justin Reid-Ross. However, the Lancers fought back with field goals from Dharamvir Singh and captain Moritz Fuerste in the 40th and 54th minutes respectively.
The setback sparked the home team into life and two minutes later, they won a penalty corner. Instead of going for the field goal, they chose the drag-flick option and it paid instant dividends as Rupinder Pal Singh converted in style. With the final whistle nearing, Mandeep Singh drove into the penalty area and despite being dispossessed, he put the opposition defence under pressure and forced an error. Simon Child was on hand to pounce and thus, Delhi turned around the deficit in a matter of minutes.
The Kalinga Lancers travel to Chandigarh for their final league game against the Punjab Warriors on February 18. The Waveriders, on the other hand, have four games remaining with the next one at home to Dabang Mumbai on Wednesday.
It was an excellent game of hockey for the neutral, filled with speed, vigour and loads of goals. The stadium was packed to the brim with Delhi supporters and their team did not disappoint, as they scripted a fine comeback to take home the much-needed five points.