The in-form Delhi Waveriders took on the not-so-convincing Punjab Warriors at the Major Dhyan Chand Stadium in Delhi. Delhi led Punjab by seven points prior to the match, albeit having played a match less, but they were in no mood to let the Warriors come anywhere near them and took control of the match early on.
A strong point of Delhi’s game this season has been the midfield partnership of Sardara Singh and Dutch Tim Jenniskens, their movement in the midfield has been swift, passes accurate and trapping excellent. The understanding between the two has been admirable as well, if one attacks the other automatically retreats to provide support at the back and once again they were in top form when the team took the field to face the Warriors.
The Warriors looked like a team on a mission who knew too well what was expected from the match and were on the attack from the first minute. They created some wonderful chances but could not make it count and as the quarter progressed, Delhi slowly got into their own rhythm with Captain Sardara dictating the play in the middle.
And soon they had the breakthrough as Akashdeep Singh hit a powerful back flick from about five yards outside after some good pressure from Delhi. The teams went into the first break with Delhi leading 1-0 but Punjab were not to be written off so soon.
The Warriors came out firing on all cylinders in the second half and coach Barry Dancer will be disappointed with the profligacy of his strikers in front of goal, with SV Sunil missing an open goal and Jamie Dwyer also missing two chances he would normally have put away with ease. The Waveriders were on the back foot and the crowd anxious, but to their credit the Warriors could not breach their defences and the teams went into half time with the score still 1-0 in favour of Delhi.
The second-half saw Delhi showing more interest and vigil in the game, as they now passed cautiously, not giving away possession easily and wanting to take the charged up Punjab out of the game, which they eventually did, and were building good patient attacks, with the overlapping Yuvraj and Akashdeep probing the Warriors attack from time to time. The breakthrough came seven minutes before the end of the quarter when Oscar Deecke was fouled and Kiwi Andrew Hayward, brought in as a replacement for a Pakistani player, scored with the drag-flick after hitting a bullet shot to the bottom right corner; a shot which left Stockman rooted to his spot.
The crowd were now in a joyous mode, happy to see their home team in a comfortable position and the Delhi boys played it safe in the last quarter with the Warriors running out of time and patience. SV Sunil had a very disappointing game in front of goal and it was definitely a night to forget for him. The Warriors substituted their goal-keeper in the final five minutes of the match in a bid to salvage something out of the match but instead fell prey to a stunning Delhi counter which ended with Delhi scoring their third of the night through Kiwi Simon Child and rounding off another comfortable victory.
Final Score: Delhi (Akashdeep, Hayward, Child) 3-0 Punjab.
Man of the Match: Sardara Singh
Goal of the Match: Akashdeep Singh