Dabang Mumbai's loss ensures Delhi Waveriders entry into semis
Lucknow, Feb 15 (IANS) Dabang Mumbai were knocked out of the Hero Hockey India League (HIL) semi-finals race, losing 2-3 to Uttar Pradesh Wizards at the Major Dhyan Chand Collge stadium here on Sunday. The result not only helped Wizards to move to the top of the pool standings, but also ensured Delhi Waveriders' entry into the semifinals.
With only one match to go for Mumbai, the debutants have 15 points - a point short of fifth-placed Kalinga Lancers and seven adrift of Waveriders. While, Lancers have only one game left, defending champions Waveriders are yet to play two of their remaining matches. Ranchi Rays and Jaypee Punjab Warriors have already qualified for the semifinals.
However, Wizards on Sunday started the first quarter with swift attacks. Despite the strong defence that the home team had, Mumbai, managed to find a gap when Vikas Pillay sneaked in a field goal as early as in the eighth minute. The visitors again had a chance of scoring when they were awarded a penalty corner but the Wizards defence was up to the task.
UP Wizards makes a great comeback
The hosts came out a lot more attacking in the second quarter and did not allow Mumbai to avail any further chances. Their efforts bore fruit in the 29th minute when Indian international Nithin Thimmaiah scored a field goal to level the score 1-1 in the 29th minute. Wizards continued to attack but failed to score in the third quarter.
Mumbai took the 2-1 lead when Australian Glenn Turner sounded the board in the 44th minute. Trailing by a goal, Wizards roared back in the final quarter. Harjeet Singh found a chink in the defence and sliced in a beautiful field goal to equal the score 2-2 in the 53rd minute.
In the dying moments of the game, Thimmaiah scored a stupendous field goal to help Wizards finish their home campaign with a 3-2 victory. After the match, Mumbai head coach Valentin Altenburg blamed his team's defenders for conceding late goals.
"It was not just bad luck. Our defence went loose in the last quarter as we conceded goals and eventually lost. We started off well but failed to finish in the game," the German said.
On the contrary, Wizards chief coach Roelant Oltmans praised his team's determination.
"Due to some physical problems in the team for last two-three days we did not play up to the mark today. But with the determination to win, we were able to make a comeback in the last quarter and win the game," the Dutchman said.