Match Preview: Delhi Waveriders vs U.P Wizards
The hosts U.P. Wizards will play their first match of HHIL’s third season against the mighty Delhi Waveriders in the Dhyan Chand Astroturf Stadium, Lucknow. The previous clashes between the two have always been a goal fest and the fans would expect the same again.
Indian hockey stalwart Sardar Singh would be leading Delhi’s charge whereas mercurial V.R. Raghunath would be the man in command for the Wizards. With the introduction of Suresh Raina as the new co-owner of U.P. Wizards, the battle between both the teams can also be seen as “Raina’s team vs Abraham’s team”
Delhi, despite having a superior win record, is still likely to face a stiff challenge from the Wizards as we have seen all the matches between the two have gone right down to the wire.
Delhi ready for encore
Delhi Waveriders would again be ready for an encore of last year’s title winning performance. They have enough quality in their ranks to repeat their previous exploits.
Waveriders biggest inspiration is their captain Sardar Singh, under whose guardianship the team has done phenomenally well in past seasons. His colossal presence in the midfield has always done the trick for the Delhi outfit.
The lanky defender Rupinder Pal Singh would be expected to replicate the same form which he showed for the national side last year. He will be efficiently supported by New Zealand stopper Andrew Hayward & Australian Tristan White.
Young Akashdeep will be the Man Friday of the team going forward. Other Indians like Danish Murjtaba, Yuvraj Walmiki, G.S. Chandi and foreign recruits such as Simon Child and Australian Jason Wilson will add further depth to this star-studded forward line.
Wizards eager to break the jinx
A two-time semi-finalist, U.P. Wizards would take the field in a defiant mood this year and try to win all the matches to reach the ever-elusive final of the Hockey India League. To make that happen, U.P. have enough firepower in their team who can propel them to the top of the table.
V.R. Raghunath-led Wizards have a strong line-up comprising of players like Edward Ockenden, Nikkin Thimmaiah, S K Uthappa, Ramandeep Singh and none other than star goalkeeper P.R. Sreejesh, who can turn the match on any given day with his quick reflex saves.
Legendary Teun de Nooijer will again be the centre of attraction because of his past reputation.He definitely needs to find his old touch to help the team’s cause.
Although both teams have an equal footing with respect to the quality of players, the Delhi side is likely to emerge on top given their past record against Wizards.