Wednesday evening’s encounter in the Hockey India League 2017 will feature a clash of the titans when defending champions, Jaypee Punjab Warriors will take the battle across to the champions of the 2015 edition, Ranchi Rays.
The home team, Ranchi is currently third on the league table with 10 points from their 4 matches while on the contrary, Punjab Warriors occupy the unfamiliar bottom place on the table having lost their only encounter so far against Dabang Mumbai.
The team has had a mixed run of sorts so far in the tournament with a single win, a couple of draws and a loss under their belt. A key feature of the Ranchi Rays has been their ability to hunt in packs on attacks which has benefitted the team, especially during the big 7-2 win against the Kalinga Lancers. The foreign recruits in the likes of Christopher Ruhr and Ashley Jackson will have to come good while the midfield will be strengthened by the presence of veteran Gurbaj Singh and Manpreet Singh.
Tyler Lovell has been on the top of his game in front of the goal, denying the opposition time and again and he will have to continue to be stellar if the Rays are to make it to the last four. The responsibility of converting the set-pieces will rest on drag-flicker Australian Trent Mitton. The defence meanwhile has so far been solid with the trio of Birendra Lakra, Timothy Deavin and Vikramjit Singh performing as well as they can.
Jaypee Punjab Warriors
The defending champions have played just one match so far which was an away encounter against Dabang Mumbai, the result of which did not end in their favour for they suffered a 4-10 loss. Though they were on point when it came to building up an attack, they failed to sustain the same when it came to finishing them off. Young striker Armaan Qureshi’s combination with veteran SV Sunil will be a key ingredient to the teams’ success.
Matt Gohdes, Van der Horst and Sardar Singh, meanwhile, will be anchoring the midfield and will not prove an easy force to reckon with. However, it is important that the defence manned by Christopher Ciriello, Mark Knowles (Australia) and Varun Kumar provides some semblance of resistance with Tristan Clemons guarding the goal.
Ranchi Rays who are coming into this match on the back of a draw will be eager to notch up a win in front of their home ground and their ability to launch attacks time and again with numerous circle penetrations will prove to be a concern for the Punjab Warriors. On the other hand, the visitors will be looking to build their momentum going forward in the tournament and get a win under their belt, with the forwards then playing a key role in this clash.
Thus, the mantle will ultimately lie on the fact that which goalkeeper and defence out-performs the other in terms of vulnerability.
Verdict: Ranchi Rays 4-2 Jaypee Punjab Warriors
Christopher Ruhr (Germany), Sarvanjit Singh, Sumit Kumar, Mohammad Amir Khan, Imran Khan
Flynn Ogilvie (Australia), Sumit, Simranjeet Singh, Barry Middleton (England), Trent Mitton (Australia), Ashley Jackson (England), Gurbaj Singh, Kothajit Singh, Manpreet Singh
Birendra Lakra, Timothy Deavin (Australia), Vikramjit Singh, Fergus Kavanagh (Australia)
Akash Chikte, Tyler Lovell (Australia)
Jaypee Punjab Warriors:
Ajit Kumar Pandey, Armaan Qureshi, Jackob Whetton (Australia), Jasjit Singh Kular, Mark Gleghorne (England), Nithin Thimmaiah, Satbir Singh, SV Sunil
Baljit Singh Boparai, Matt Gohdes (Australia), Robert Van Der Horst (Netherlands), Sardar Singh, Simon Orchard (Australia)
Christopher Ciriello (Australia), Harbir Singh Sandhu, Hardik Singh, Mark Knowles (Australia), Varun Kumar
Jugraj Singh, Tristan Clemons (Australia)
Ranchi Rays vs Jaypee Punjab Warriors live match information
Time: 19:00 IST
Venue: Birsa Munda Hockey Stadium, Ranchi
Broadcasting: Star Sports 2/HD, Star Sports 3/HD
Live streaming: Hotstar