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Rhinos finish charge 2-1

Ranchi Rhinos shone when it mattered the most, toppling table toppers Delhi Waveriders 2-1 in the final of the maiden Hockey India League (HIL) and treating the capital crowd to a super game on Sunday evening.

The big clash, which was played in front of a sold-out astroturf stadium in Morabadi, saw the Rhinos matching their in-form opponents stroke-for-stroke and retaining majority of ball possession throughout the match.

The teams — which had clashed thrice before in the league stage with Delhi losing none of the encounters — sized each other up in the first quarter.

A slight loss of concentration in the 15th minute saw the Waveriders breaching the Rhinos defence for the first time in the game, but failing to find the back of the net thanks to an alert home defence. The Waveriders, however, broke the shackles half way through in the second quarter, with Delhi striker Simon Child finding the goal with a strong push to take the lead. A series of counter-attacks by the Rhinos could not find the equaliser.

The second half began on an action-packed note with the Waveriders earning, and wasting, three penalty corners thanks largely to some brilliant goal-keeping by Ranchi’s Francisco Cortes.

The Rhinos attack finally bore fruit in the 51st minute with striker Austin Smith making no mistake in converting a penalty corner — awarded to the home team after Mandeep Singh was brought down in the Delhi D-box — into a goal.

The equaliser put spring in the steps of the Rhinos with the home team mounting wave after wave of attack, forcing the Delhi players to fall back in defence. The Rhinos were finally rewarded in the 63rd minute when Manpreet Singh, taking a penalty corner calmly, put the ball in the back of the Delhi net to hand the state capital the first HIL Cup.

The match, besides drawing a noisy crowd, also saw the presence of senior BJP leader Arjun Jaitley.


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