Delhi Waveriders maintain winning run, cut UP Wizards to size
Delhi Waveriders maintained their unbeaten run, easing past Sahara Uttar Pradesh Wizards 3-0 at the Dhyan Chand Astroturf Hockey Stadium in Lucknow here on Sunday.
With this win, Delhi are cosily placed at the top of the points table with 44 points from ten matches. UP Wizards are lying fourth with 22 points from as many games.
It was UP Wizards who dominated the early play with some probing sallies. India discard Tushar Khandker sped down the left but his attempt was foiled by the Delhi Waveriders defence.
Nithin Thimmaiah also broke through the left before muffing up an opportunity to sound the board.
Wizards’ marquee player and celebrated Dutch striker Teun de Nooijer showed his class, dribbling past two Waveriders defenders and unleashed a fierce reverse hit, which went wide.
Delhi Waveriders, who started the match with captain Sardar Singh on the bench, made the first attacking move after being on the receiving end in the first few minutes of play when Gurvinder Singh Chandi almost breached the Wizards’ defence but goalkeeper George Bazeley pulled off a superb save.
Wizards created their best possible scoring chance when Nithin Thimmaiah was nicely fed by captain Vokkaliga Raghunath but the gangling forward slammed it wide.
Waveriders earned their first penalty corner, which resulted in a follow-on PC. Andres Mir Bil capitalized on the opportunity, whipping it home to give his side the lead in the 11th minute.
The green brigade doubled their lead in the 16th minute when New Zealander Simon Child offered a faint deflection off a stinging reverse hit by German Oskar Deecke after he was nicely set up by Gurbaj Singh.
Stung by the two-goal deficit, Wizards didn’t quite know how to respond in the second quarter. Their forwardline went off the boil even as Delhi controlled the proceedings.
The Waveriders, on the other hand, were at their clinical best. Gurvinder Singh Chandi piled on the agony of the Wizards, indulging in some individual brilliance, making it 3-0 in the second quarter – the Indian striker racking up his fourth goal of the tournament.
UP Wizards needed a strong start in the second half if they were to wipe off the three-goal deficit. But lack of a strong midfield play put paid to their hopes of mounting a fightback.
Nooijer and Khandker after their initial burst were hugely disappointing, something which should concern coach Roelant Oltmans.
Wizards earned their first penalty corner in the 57th minute, which is a fair indication of how their forwardline struggled. Jeroen Hertzberger messed up the chance. The home side had another opportunity to hit back when they forced their second penalty corner, which resulted in a follow-on PC but on both occasions Hertzberger bungled.
Wizards needed at least a goal in the final quarter to sneak a point but that did not materialise as Waveriders maintain their supremacy to log full points.
Delhi Waveriders captain Sardar Singh sounded pleased with the win. “We are improving with each game. We will try to maintain our consistent run in the coming matches.”
UP Wizards skipper Vokkaliga Raghunath was crestfallen with the defeat but vowed to fightback. “This was our last home game. We want to thank the Lucknow crowd for all the support and affection, we will do well in the next two games and make it to the semifinals.”