Lucknow: S.V. Sunil scored two goals to help Punjab Warriors edge past hosts Uttar Pradesh Wizards 4-3 in a round-robin match to move to the third spot in the inaugural Hockey India League, here, on Sunday.
By virtue of this win, the Warriors are lying third in the points table with 20 points from seven games, behind table toppers Delhi Waveriders (27) and second-placed Ranchi Rhinos (22). Wizards are fourth in the standings with 17 points from seven games.
Sunil’s double strike and drag-flicks from Jamie Dwyer and Christopher Ciriello, all coming in the first quarter, were enough to earn Warriors full five points. Wizards’ goals came from the sticks of Sander Baart, Raghunath and Jeroen Hertzberger.
Playing away, the Warriors got off to a thrilling start. A brilliant team attack was converted into a goal by an ever-alert Sunil in the second minute to put the visitors 1-0 ahead. Two minutes later, Sunil doubled the Punjab side’s scoreline with a superb effort.
From the onset, the Warriors kept on attacking the Wizards’ defence, which rattled the UP side.
Another smart move in the eighth minute earned Warriors their first penalty corner of the game, and Australian Dwyer was spot on with his drag-flick, increasing the visitors’ lead.
Trailing by three goals, the Wizards began to find their feet back slowly. In the 11th minute, the hosts made a clever move and Baart managed to put Wizards on the scoreboard with a neat strike.
But the visitors thrashed the Wizards’ hopes of making a strong comeback four minutes later. Another good move earned Warriors their second penalty corner, and this time it was the turn of Ciriello to score with a powerful drag-flick, and restore the visitors’ three-goal lead.
It turned out to be the busiest first quarter of the tournament so far as the opening 17-and-a-half minutes witnessed as many as five goals.