Leaders Jaypee Punjab Warriors to face defending Champions Delhi Waverides in the HIL
Bhubaneswar, January 31 (IANS)
Following a thumping 3-1 victory against defending champions Delhi Waveriders in the national capital on Friday, Jaypee Punjab Warriors are ready to face Kalinga Lancers at their home turf here on Sunday, aspiring to maintain their winning run in the Hockey India League (HIL).
Riding on three wins against Lancers, Uttar Pradesh Wizards and Waveriders, the Mohali-based team is in its best form and leading the standings with 17 points. A win against Lancers Sunday will boost their determination to win the title.
On the other side, Lancers are playing two back-to-back matches this weekend against Wizards and Warriors. After winning the inaugural match against Ranchi Rays, Lancers lost their two away matches against Warriors and Wizards. The Bhubaneswar-based team has to materialise its home advantage and continue the unbeaten result at home to remain in the top four.
The star-studded Warriors will have the extra advantage of their in-form players such as Dutch goalkeeper Jaap Stockman teaming with Australian Christopher Ciriello and penalty corner specialist Sandeep Singh in defence, Australian Rob Hammond and Argentinean Lucas Ray in midfield to provide support to captain Jamie Dwyer of Australia, S.V. Sunil, Affan Yousuf and Malak Singh in the forward line.
The players have the capability of changing the game at the last moment, which they did in Friday's match against Waveriders. Trailing 0-1 in the first three quarters, the Dwyer-led team came back with three goals in just six minutes to win 3-1.
Being the highest scorers of HIL 2015, Dwyer (3 goals) and Sandeep (4) will continue with their responsibility of creating the maximum chances for their team. However, Malak Singh, Affan Yousuf, Gurmail Singh, Dharamvir Singh and Varun Kumar will give their energetic support to maintain pressure on the opponents.
Warriors coach Barry Dancer of Australia may field some players off their bench strength and give some rest to the regular senior players.
“I endorse what our coach said. We are in good form and all the players are very motivated. We are playing extremely well but not taking any team lightly,” Dwyer said.
“We have beaten Lancers earlier but now they are on their home turf and will utilise that advantage. We will play our natural game and try to create maximum chances. Our team is very confident and if everything goes well, we will win with a good margin.”