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World Series Hockey -- Wizards squeak past Marines

627   //    19 Mar 2012, 23:12 IST

Delhi Wizards squeaked past a battling Mumbai Marines by the odd goal in three in a tumultuous ninth round Bridgestone World Series Hockey match played at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium in the capital tonight.

It was a crucial win for the hosts who now move up the ladder to fifth spot with 13 points while the visitors remain in the second last position with 10 points. The two sides had drawn their first leg match 2-2.

The Wizards went ahead in the 13th minute through a penalty corner scored by Vikramjeet Singh. But Ajmer Singh retaliated in the very next minute with a fierce hit after Mumbai forced their first award and made it 1-1.

Shakeel Abassi got the fortuitous match winner in the 34th minute after he worked his way into the circle from the left and his wayward tomahawked shot was deflected into the goal by the otherwise competent left-back Ajmer. It was his third goal in the tournament.

There was total confusion on the pitch as the match drew to a close with a penalty stroke being denied to the winners after Rajpal Singh was upended in the rival circle after a superb run by Ajmer Singh and a seemingly legitimate Troy Sutherland equalizer in the 69th minute was cancelled out by the third umpire after an interminable wait. The Wizards played the last few minutes with one man short as skipper Abassi was yellow carded after his side were found out with 12 players on the pitch.

The Pakistani skipper was as usual a busybody for the Wizards with his snaking runs all across the artificial turf but did not receive adequate support from the others in his pack. His counterpart at the other end, Adrian D’Souza, was an equally busy man as he was called upon to rescue his side on several occasions while his midfield and forwards failed to make any meaningful headway.

But Andrew Meredith’s visitors pushed their tired bodies after the change of ends and took the battle to the rival camp even as the Wizards soaked up the pressure. It was a tactic that luckily did not backfire on the hosts. The Marines could have even drawn level in the 42nd minute but Kamaldeep Singh brought off an amazing reflex save to keep out Joga Singh’s deflection off a Sutherland cross from the left flank.

In the end it was a match they did not deserve to lose but the way things have been going downhill for them in the last few encounters, it was a result that seemed set in stone.

Mario Rodrigues is a senior sports journalist and football & hockey writer. He is the author of the acclaimed biography of Ranjitsinhji titled ‘Batting for the Empire’.
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