Ranchi Rays looking good to wrap up hat-trick of HIL titles
Ranchi Rays have won the HIL title in both the previous editions
Ranchi Rays have managed to stay on top of the points table of the 4th Coal India Hockey India League for most part, though other teams like Jaypee Punjab Warriors, Uttar Pradesh Wizards and Kalinga Lancers have also enjoyed their brief stay on top of the tree.
The Harendra Singh-coach Ranchi outfit is currently placed second in the points table behind Jaypee Punjab Warriors only on goal average with both teams having 27 points with Ranchi playing a goalless (8 games) than Punjab (9 games).
Clearly, despite the good going the Ranchi side have suffered disappointments in the league as well. The Rays first suffered a 0-2 defeat to Jaypee Punjab Warriors, subsequently going down 5-7 to Dabang Mumbai before losing to 3-8 to Delhi Waveriders in an away game.
I don’t want to look too far ahead: Harendra Singh
But there is a general feeling that the Ranchi side is looking good to complete a hat-trick of HIL titles. “I don’t want to look far too ahead – wish to take one game at a time and not let complacency creep into our system. Lets’ not forget that other teams are also performing well. So, we can’t take any side lightly,” cautions Ranchi Rays head coach Harendra Singh, who is also the Indian junior men’s team head coach.
The Ranchi Rays head coach believes there is still room for improvement. “We have a lot of hard work ahead of us. We need to cut down on the long passes of our opponents. If we can do that, we can have better control of our opponents, which will help us immensely,” he opined.
One of the biggest highs of the 2016 league is the number of field goals scored after the new rule was put in place allowing two goals for a field goal. “It has changed the way the game is played. We haven’t seen a draw in 20-odd games in the 2016 edition so far.
“Spectators are loving it – what more you can ask for. The habit of teams only looking for penalty corners is not there as you get only one goal for short corner conversion irrespective of whether it is a direct drag-flick or indirectly taken one,” Harendra quipped.
The business-end of the 2016 Coal India Hockey India League would see a lot excitement as to which four teams will make it to the semifinals. Ranchi Rays surely looks virtually assured of playing in the last four stage and going beyond and chasing their hat-trick dream.