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Match Preview: Jaypee Punjab Warriors vs Mumbai Magicians

SENIOR ANALYST
Preview
819   //    23 Jan 2013, 20:01 IST

Hockey India League

Venue: Surjit Singh Hockey Stadium, Jalandhar (Capacity – 7000)

Date: 24rd January

Time: 2000 hours

Broadcaster: ESPN (English Commentary) and Star Cricket (Hindi Commentary)

Punjab Warriors and Mumbai Magicians, the two bottom placed teams with 10 and 4 points respectively, meet for the second time in the Hockey India League, desperate to resurrect their fortunes.

The Warriors will be the favourites to win for three compelling reasons – firstly, because they enjoy the home advantage, secondly, because they will be high on confidence having won their earlier game 2-4, and thirdly, because they are the better side on paper. The Punjab defence is highly rated (despite which they have conceded 10 goals), their midfield workmanlike and their forward line top class. Barry Dancer’s team live up to their moniker with their natural bent of aggression but the key to their fortunes is to take their chances.

Having lost all their matches and conceded the maximum number of goals, Mumbai’s main problem is their porous defence. Having five-goal Sandeep Singh in a key role there obviously does not inspire confidence. But the drag flicker cuts both ways as he can make or mar Mumbai’s prospects.

Sandeep Singh will be the man in focus for Mumbai Magicians

Sandeep Singh will be the man in focus for Mumbai Magicians

Ric Charlesworth however, has got his replacements in Kookaburras co-captain Liam de Young, London Olympic bronze medallist Tim Deavin and 2012 Champions Trophy gold medallists Glenn Simpson and Jason Wilson. That makes it eight Aussies to collectively put the Magic back in Mumbai’s play. Ric will have fewer excuses to offer if there is no turnaround now. Mumbai have especially self-destructed in the last quarter, so Charlesworth should devise a modus operandi to avoid a similar fate.

Players to watch out for:

Punjab Warriors: Russell Ford – The arrival of exciting Aussie striker Russell Ford could give the local attack the cutting edge it was missing and his combination with Jamie Dwyer, Kieron Govers & Co. will be keenly watched.

Mumbai Magicians: Glenn Turner – The Aussie especially must wave his magic wand for Mumbai to come good. He must lead from the front and come up with goals, having yet to open his account from field play.

Form Guide:

Jaypee Punjab Warriors: DWLLL

Mumbai MagiciansLLLL

Coaches:

Punjab: Barry Dancer (Australia)

Mumbai:  Ric Charlesworth (Australia)

Score Prediction: Overall, Punjab have the edge and should be able to take full points, even by the narrowest of margins.

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SENIOR ANALYST
Mario Rodrigues is a senior sports journalist and football & hockey writer. He is the author of the acclaimed biography of Ranjitsinhji titled ‘Batting for the Empire’.
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