Ranchi Rays host Jaypee Punjab Warriors in HIL's top of the table clash
Ranchi, February 9 (IANS)
Jaypee Punjab Warriors, who have already booked their semi-final berth, will face Ranchi Rays in the Hockey India League (HIL) here on Tuesday.
The match will be a contest between the top two teams of the league so far. Warriors lead the table with 28 points whereas Rays are second with 24.
The Rays, who have remained unbeaten at home with two draws and two wins, will face a tough challenge against the star-studded Warriors.
Leading from the front is top goal-scorer Sandeep Singh, who scored a hat-trick against the defending champions Delhi Waveriders in their previous match. The Barry Dancer-coached team will stick to their strategy of earning maximum penalty corners and leave it to Sandeep to convert them.
Rays head coach Harendra Singh has to think out of the box to restrict Sandeep otherwise they may have to see a disappointing score-line.
The Chandigarh-based team is also known for late strikes and scoring back-to-back goals in the fourth quarter to turn the game in their favour. Rays not only have to restrict penalty corners but also have to be watchful of not allowing Punjab forwards to strike.
Rays' strength lie in their strong defence led by Kothajit Singh and Birendra Lakra, who showed their guts against Uttar Pradesh Wizards in the last match where they won 1-0 despite having only 30 percent ball possession.
The Rays will also be benefited by their captain Ashley Jackson's great form, who is the second highest goal-scorer of the HIL 2015 with seven. With Mandeep Singh, Manpreet Singh and Englishman Barry Middleton in the midfield, Ashley can do his job of scoring goals and extend their unbeaten run in the Jharkhand capital.