| Mumbai’s Sandeep Singh celebrates after scoring his first goal |
New Delhi: Delhi Waveriders were considered the best team in the inaugural Hockey India League (HIL).
However, on Wednesday at the Dhyan Chand Stadium here, the hosts owed it to their goalkeeper Nicolas Jacobi for being able to manage a 2-2 draw against a rampaging Ranchi Rhinos. The German custodian made some spectacular saves to help Waveriders avoid their first defeat of the tournament.
Both teams earned two points each and almost made sure of their entry into the semi-finals. While Waveriders are on top of table with 34 points, Ranchi Rhinos are placed second with 29.
Even Ranchi skipper Moritz Fuerste sounded frustrated after the match. “We should have won the match as we had quite a few chances. But Jacobi made some amazing stops,” he said.
“We were not as good as we have been in the league so far. We made some mistakes today, and hopefully we would learn from them,” Waveriders’ captain Sardar Singh said.
In the previous meeting between the two teams, Delhi won 5-4.
On Wednesday, however, Ranchi took the lead through Justin Reid Ross, who drove home on the run. It was definitely the best goal of the match.
Delhi was quick to hit back but were a bit lucky to get the equaliser early in the second quarter, when a hopeful hit from the left flank by Lloyd Norris Jones struck the foot of a Rhinos defender and went in.
Delhi went ahead in the third quarter, when a long hit from Oscar Deecke was successfully pushed in by Yuvraj Valmiki with a deft touch. Rhinos restored parity in the final quarter through Floris Evers, who tapped in a pass from Birendra Lakra.
Meanwhile, captain Sandeep Singh scored twice from penalty corner flicks as Mumbai Magicians broke their seven-match winless streak by outclassing Uttar Pradesh Wizards 4-0 at the MHA Mahindra Stadium.
The Magicians went into the game played between the 5-team league’s bottom-placed sides in a must-win situation and showed a lot of positive play and attacked from both flanks to dominate their rivals.
The first two goals for Magicians before Sandeep’s double strike, that took his goal tally to 11, were notched up by Jonny Jasrotia, off the first of the Magicians’ five short corners, and Jason Wilson, a fine field goal on the run from the right.
The home team's deep defence, with goalkeeper P R Sreejesh having a good game along with Matthew Butturuni, also stood tall to deny their rivals' forays repeatedly.
The well-earned victory fetched the Magicians five points that boosted their tally to 12 with four games, including three at home, in hand.
The Wizards' fourth loss in their eighth game by a four-goal margin kept them on 17 points.
Magicians took an early lead through a penalty corner effort from Jasrotia in the first quarter and, after a goalless second quarter, proceeded to pump in two more goals after half-time in the third quarter via Wilson and Sandeep, to lead 3-0, before the home team skipper flicked home again in the last quarter to complete the tally.