Delhi Waveriders consolidate top position with a thrilling win over Ranchi Rhinos
Delhi Waveriders came from behind to score a fighting 4-5 victory over Ranchi Rhinos in a thrilling and fast paced match of the Hockey India League at the Birsa Munda Hockey Stadium tonight. The in form visitors thus maintained their unbeaten record and cemented their place at the top with 22 points while the home side, who succumbed to their second defeat, remain in third place with 12 points.
The hero of the Delhi win was India defender Rupinder Pal Singh who converted a brace of penalty corners and had a hand in the winning penalty corner rebound goal scored by Tim Jenniskens six minutes before the final whistle. Akashdeep Singh and Gurvinder Singh Chandi were responsible for Delhi’s other goals.
For the Rhinos, Justin Reid Ross, Ashley Jackson (penalty stroke and penalty corner) and Mandeep Singh got themselves on the score sheet. The match was interrupted in the fourth quarter for about five minutes because one of the floodlight towers went on the blink.
Although Delhi marginally enjoyed more possession, the Rhinos came up with the better chances and it was only the prodigality of their forwards and the form of Nicolas Jacobi under the Delhi bar which saw the table toppers squeak home to their fourth win.
Both the teams came off the blocks with all cylinders firing and there were chances at both ends that went abegging. But it was the visitors who broke the stalemate early on when the irrepressible Chandi weaved his way to the top of the Ranchi circle from the left flank and his shot was deflected into the cage by the opportunist Akashdeep.
The hosts hit back in the 14th minute when Ross collected a slap shot by Moritz Feurtse in the danger zone and beat Jacobi all ends up with a smart reverse hit.
The goal spurred Ranchi into an attacking frenzy and they peppered the rival citadel with relentless attacks in the second quarter. Mandeep missed an absolute sitter when Fuerste set him up at the far post with an angular pass. Nick Wilson then squandered another chance when he dispossessed Sardar Singh in the midfield but put the ball just wide past an onrushing Jacobi.
Ranchi went into the lead in the third quarter when Jackson converted a penalty stroke that was awarded when Andrea Mir Bel stopped his penalty corner try on the goal-line with his foot. Rupinder pulled one back before another opportunistic deflection by Chandi off a Danish Mujtaba hit put the Waveriders in the lead again.
Rupinder made it 2-4 in the fourth quarter but goals by Mandeep and Jackson made it even all over again. In a final twist to the tale, man of the match Jenniskens, who impressed with his dangerous forays forward along the left channel, bundled in a late matchwinner by pouncing on a penalty corner rebound and slotting it home in a flash.
Moritz Fuerste thanked the crowd for the vociferous support and urged them to support in the match tomorrow (24th January), which they play at the same venue against Uttar Pradesh Wizards.
Delhi Waveriders will face Mumbai Magicians in their next match on Saturday (26th January).