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Rhinos show road to victory

Pretty women and popular men upped the glam quotient as Ranchi Rhinos gored Mumbai Magicians to a humiliating defeat with their extraordinary dribbling skills at the Astroturf Hockey Stadium in Morabadi on Friday evening.

Right from the beginning, the Rhinos took charge. By half time, around 9pm, they had scored three goals, while the Mumbai team had failed to work up magic. The latter, however, netted only a solitary in the second half, helping the Rhinos win 3-1.

Earlier in the day, Mandira Bedi played the spontaneous emcee to the core, German model-turned-actress Claudia Ciesla shook a leg to peppy numbers as did Bollywood belle Udita Goswami and her troupe.

“This league match will take Indian hockey to new heights. Jharkhand being the homeland of many international hockey players, let us celebrate hockey again and be a part of this historic event,” Bedi said, greeting a stadium packed with 5,000-odd enthusiasts of the national game.

While Big Boss girl Claudia made the audience — armed with vuvuzela avatars — cheer loudly as she gyrated to Chikni Chameli and Aa re pritam pyare, Udita rocked hearts young and old with Dum maro dum, Sheela ki jawani and Jhalak dikhla ja.

The cultural extravaganza began at 6.15pm and continued for over an hour. It was preceded by a paragliding spectacle. A laser show on hockey in India set the right atmosphere for the match, which kicked off between the two franchises at 8pm. Fireworks too lit up the evening sky between dances and laser shows.

Though the city was also hosting the inauguration of the JSCA International Stadium Complex in Dhurwa, hockey lovers flocked Morabadi by 5pm and the stadium was packed to capacity.

Former Pakistan pacer Wasim Akram and batsman Rameez Raja, in the city for Saturday’s India-England ODI, were among the audience. “The city seems hockey-crazy,” Raja said, hoping to see the same spirit at Dhurwa too.

The inauguration function was also attended by former deputy chief minister and sport minister Sudesh Mahto.