Delhi Waveriders beat Uttar Pradesh Wizards to claim third spot in HIL
New Delhi, Feb 22: Delhi Waveriders defeated Uttar Pradesh Wizards 2-1 to claim the third position in the Hockey India League (HIL) at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium here Sunday. Rupinder Pal Singh (6th minute), Yuvraj Walmiki (50th) scored for the 2014 edition champions while Nikkin Thimmaiah (18th) scored the reducer for the Wizards.
In the match between two beaten semi-finalists, Waveriders, who Saturday lost to Jaypee Punjab Warriors, showed more hunger and aggression from the start. Playing with more accuracy and precision, they made several incisive moves and appeared the better side.
Wizards, who lost to Ranchi Rays in the semis, started slowly which affected them.
In the fifth minute, Lloyd Norris-Jones was in the centre of a quick counter-attack. He snatched the ball from V.R. Raghunath from the top of the Waveriders' circle and raced inside the other D. The South African played the ball to the foot of a Wizards defender to earn a penalty corner.
The stopper failed to hold the ball but Waveriders kept the ball in play and bagged another penalty corner which forced P.R. Sreejesh to dive to his right and save it.
The home team still dominated play and Rupinder poked home in the sixth minute.
Wizards came roaring back in the second quarter and an incisive run from India international S.K. Uthappa to the circle found Eddie Ockenden on the right of the goal. The Australian crossed for Ramandeep Singh, who was stationed in front of the post.
But the Indian fell down while attempting a shot and the ball went near Nikkin, who chipped the ball in to score the equaliser in the 18th minute. The score remained 1-1 at halftime.
As soon as the third quarter began, Waveriders stepped up their game and earned two penalty corners inside the first five minutes. However, Rupinder continued to struggle as a drag-flicker and wasted both of them with inaccurate and fragile efforts.
Waveriders skipper Sardar Singh was not his usual self but managed to set up a gem of a chance for Talwinder Singh. But Sreejesh was alert to thwart Talwinder's straight drive at him.
Both goalkeeper Sreejesh and Waveriders' German custodian Nicolas Jacobi had a very good game.
Wizards' Ockenden and Dutch star Jeroen Hertzberger regularly tested Jacobi and the latter came out on top on all occasions.
However, Wavriders grabbed the 2-1 lead in the 50th minute when Walmiki deflected a ball off a Talwinder hit to win it for Waveriders, who finished runners-up in the inaugural edition in 2013.