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World Series Hockey -- Comets scrape past Wizards

Delhi Wizards spurned a penalty stroke in the third quarter as they went down to Chandigarh Comets 2-3 in a 10th round match of the Bridgestone World Series Hockey in the Punjab capital that had its fair share of spills and thrills.

Gurjinder Singh gave the Comets a super start by converting their first penalty corner in the 8th minute and was on target again in the 14th minute for his 11th goal in the championship. Vikramjeet Singh returned the compliment with a conversion of his own (10th minute) while Shakeel Abassi helped the visitors draw level again in the second quarter.

Amir Khan got the match winner for the hosts in the 44th minute following a good counter attack involving Rehan Butt and the impressive Sukhwinder Singh Gabbar whose through pass found Khan in a good position to score and he made no mistake.

It was Gurjinder’s lone strike that had helped the Comets win the first leg encounter by a 1-0 margin in the national capital and his brace today helped keep his side in second spot with 18 points, just one behind leaders and state mates Sher-E-Punjab. Delhi would have been in second position had they won but they now remain in fifth with 13 points after their fifth defeat.

Comets had the better possession, more chances and good control over the proceedings and could have won by a more convincing margin but for Kamaldeep Singh under the Delhi bar who brought off numerous save to keep the tally down. The eight penalty corners that the home side forced was an indication of their overall superiority. It was Canadian international Gabbar who was at the fulcrum of their moves and even skipper Butt came up with a few good runs.

The visitors were certainly not outclassed but with ex German international Philip Sunkel still a pale shadow of his former self — the German has been complaining of the hectic schedule – it was left to Abassi to again lead from the front in this encounter between two Pakistani skippers. He was literally a one man army for his team and kept a cool head while picking his spot for a clinical finish that helped the visitors make it 2-2 in the 28th minute. It was new signing Leandro Zurita who did the spadework for the goal and the Spanish international’s overall enterprise put some magic back into the flagging Delhi wands.

In the end Vikramjeet could have Delhi split points but he sent his attempt soaring wide from the spot in the 48th minute even as Comet custodian Harjot Singh moved the wrong way. The stroke was awarded when Gurjinder stopped his drag flick attempt from the Wizards’ second penalty corner with his body after the ball had deflected off Harjot.

Comets kept things tight at the back thereafter to walk away with full points.

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