Match Preview: Undefeated Uttar Pradesh Wizards take on Ranchi Rhinos
Venue: The Astroturf Hockey Stadium, Ranchi (Capacity – 5000)
Date: 24th January
Time: 6:00 PM
Broadcaster: ESPN (English Commentary) and Star Cricket (Hindi Commentary)
After suffering a narrow defeat against table toppers Delhi Wizards, Ranchi Rhinos will face Uttar Pradesh Wizards, who played a 2-2 draw against Punjab Warriors in their last match, for the battle of the second place tomorrow (24th January). Both the teams would be looking to kick-start their campaign once again after missing out on victories in their last games.
Captain Moritz Fuerste and Dutchman Floris Evers have been impressive for Ranchi Rhinos but it is young striker Mandeep Singh who has been scoring important goals to deliver results for Ranchi Rhinos. Despite having a young team, Ranchi Rhinos have been doing very well and with Moritz Fuertse manning the midfield along with Ashley Jackson, they are sure to give Uttar Pradesh Wizards a hard time on the field. One cause of concern for Ranchi Rhinos is their lack of Penalty Corner conversions (they missed 5 out of 5 against Delhi Waveriders) and they’d definitely work on not missing out on these opportunities.
For UP Wizards, it’s the forward line of Teun de Nooijer, Tushar Khandker, S.K. Uthappa and Jeroen Hertzberger who are a big threat to the opposition. They have not been among goals but they are finally starting to link together in the game. Another big threat for Ranchi Rhinos is their penalty corner expert Raghunath who has scored 4 goals in the tournament so far.
Uttar Pradesh Wizards have so far played 4 games in the tournament and have won two and drawn two, and are the second place in the HIL standings. Ranchi Rhinos, on the other hand, have lost steam after making a rousing start to their campaign and would love to register a victory after missing out on victory in the last game.
Last time when these two teams met each other, goals by Raghunath and Hertzberger gave Uttar Pradesh Wizards a 2-0 victory.
Players to watch out:
Tomorrow’s game is going to be treat for the fans when they see two best midfielders of the world, Teun De Nooijer of UP Wizards and Moritz Fuertse of Ranchi Rhinos in action. Both the team’s attack are not doing well, so it’s going to be a battle of the midfield when Ranchi face Uttar Pradesh.
Though tomorrow’s game is build up as the battle of midfield but it’s the strikers who will play key role tomorrow. For UP Wizards, it’s Tushar Khandker who will play major role. He has not been among the goals in the Hockey India League but he has had his impact on the games and caused problem for the opposition.
While for Ranchi Rhinos, Mandeep Singh is going to be a trump card. If not for Mandeep Singh, Ranchi Rhinos would have struggled to score. Mandeep Singh has taken good advantage of the ball pumped by Moritz Fuertse & co. in the midfield so far and the team is expected to do the same against Uttar Pradesh Wizards.
Uttar Pradesh Wizards: DWDW
Ranchi Rhinos: LLWW
Uttar Pradesh Wizards: Rolant Oltmans
Ranchi Rhinos: Gregg Clark
Prediction - Despite not performing so well in the tournament, UP Wizards are undefeated so far and it’s just a question of when this undefeated streak will end. I am banking on Ranchi Rhinos to break this undefeated streak of UP Wizards tomorrow.