Venue : Surjit Singh Stadium, Jalandhar (Capacity – 7000)
Broadcaster: Star Sports (Hindi Commentary), Star Cricket (English Commentary)
Date: 17 January 2013
Time : 8:00 PM (IST)
Jalandhar, 16 January 2013: In what promises to be a thriller, Uttar Pradesh Wizards would begin their Hero Hockey India League campaign in an away game against Jaypee Punjab Warriors here on Thursday.
In this five-team home and away format, Uttar Pradesh Wizards, owned by Sahara Adventure Sports Limited, is the only team that has not been part of the action in the first three days. Hence, Uttar Pradesh Wizards would be fresh and raring to go and make a good start in their bid to become the best team in the country.
While Wizards would be playing their first match of the tournament, Warriors would be playing their second game in as many days, and third in four days. Wizards would try to exploit any tiredness that the Warriors might show.
At the same time, Warriors would have played a couple of games before Thursday’s game, and would have started to settle down as a team. In this format, where players from different countries and States of India play together in a team, settling down as a unit takes a bit of time. Complimenting each other also needs playing some games together, and that’s where Warriors have an advantage over Wizards.
With skipper VR Raghunath at the helm, they are high on confidence “It’s a great feeling to captain Uttar Pradesh Wizards. As the captain, it is my responsibility to lead from the front and support my team. We will be putting our best foot forward while taking on Punjab, which is a well-settled team by now since it’s their third and our very first game,” Raghunath said ahead of the team’s opener. With the likes of Teun de Nooijer, Eddie Ockenden, David Alegre on his side, Raghunath believes in his team’s chances of delivering the goods. “Having some of the best players of the world, the entire team is very excited and we are ready to give some wonderful performances in the tournament,” he added.
Apart from Raghunath, Tushar Khandekar is one player that Warriors would be wary of. A quality forward, Khandekar has impressed many on the domestic as well as international circuit so far, and Wizards would expect some goals from their ace forward in the Hero Hockey India League.
The coaching staff also has some star cast, with Roelant Oltmans as coach, Leendert Johannes Jacobus Streeder as assistant coach and former Indian captain Dhanraj Pillay as Technical Director.
For Warriors, it would be their second home game in a row, and they would enjoy the support of home fans. The support can really lift the spirits in such format, and can make a difference in tight games. It would also be interesting to see how the team recovers in just a little over 24 hours after their game on Wednesday to take on a fresh Wizards side.