Kalinga Lancers beat Delhi Waveriders to clinch fifth spot
India's opening match in the cricket World Cup against Pakistan kept sports fans glued to television screens
New Delhi, February 15 (IANS) India's opening match in the cricket World Cup against Pakistan kept sports fans glued to television screens and away from the stadium but that did not deter Kalinga Lancers from snatching a 2-1 come-from-behind victory over Delhi Waveriders in the Hockey India League (HIL) here on Sunday. With the Waveriders already in the semifinals and the Lancers without any chance of making the last four, the match at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium was inconsequential.
However, it was the last opportunity for the Lancers, playing their 10th and last game, to ensure that they will finish fifth in the tournament and they did so in style, beating the defending champions. This win ensured Lancers get 21 points as total while Dabang Mumbai have 15 points with only a match remaining to be played. Mumbai's 2-3 loss earlier in the day had ensured Waveriders' entry into the last four along with Jaypee Punjab Warriors, Ranchi Rays and Uttar Pradesh Wizards.
Both teams played attacking hockey in the first 15 minutes of the game. Though both tried their best, none could make in-roads into the opponents goal. The home side was more dominant, but the Lancers were the first team to earn a penalty corner.
Aran Zalewski comes to the rescue
However, good defence by the Sardar Singh-led side helped it keep the ball out as the end of the first quarter read 0-0. Waveriders continued to dictate terms in the second quarter. Their hard work paid off when Waveriders earned to back-to-back penalty corners in the second quarter. The first one was completely squandered after Sardar passed the ball but in the second opportunity, Andy Hayward made sure the home team took the lead just before the stroke of half-time.
Hayward's grounder hit a defender's stick, but the power with which the ball was hit, made it jump and hit the roof of the net. Just when it looked that Waveriders will run away with a narrow victory, Lancers came back hard to score the equaliser in the 40th minute via Man-of-the-Match Aran Zalewski.
The Australian caught the Waveriders defence napping and seized the opportunity. He pounced on the ball and belted it home with his opponents' defenders following him in the 40th minute. Lancers went ahead for the first time when Zalewski played the ball to compatriot Russell Ford, who scored in the 49th minute.
Waveriders tried for the equaliser, but the Lancers managed to end their tournament with a victory. Lancers had finished sixth in the previous edition and this time they improved their position.
Waveriders will play their 10th and last league game against Wizards here Wednesday.