New Delhi: It was a double delight for Delhi Waveriders on their home turf at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium on Wednesday. Watched by the biggest crowd of the tournament at this venue so far this season, Waveriders consolidated their position at the top of the Hero Hockey India League (HIL) table with a 1-0 victory over Ranchi Rhinos.
The win was also a sweet revenge for the Sardar Singh-led Waveriders side, who lost to the Rhinos in the final of the last edition of HIL. Waveriders are now leading the table with 34 points from nine games. Rhinos are placed third with 24 points from seven matches.
After three barren quarters, Akashdeep Singh scored the all-important goal five minutes before the final hooter. The youngster strengthened his reputation as an opportunistic player when he pushed in from close. The Rhinos, on the other hand, did everything except scoring. They also did not look happy with a couple of umpiring decisions that went against them.
“The victory has given us the required mental strength ahead of the semi-finals,” said Sardar. “This was one match we wanted to win desperately. I am happy that so many people have come to the ground to support us,” added Sardar, who also won the Man of the Match award for his solid display in the midfield.
If the Waveriders dominated the early share of exchanges, the Rhinos had the better share of ball possession in the second quarter.
Such was the intense battle between the two teams that the first penalty corner of the game came as late as in the 30th minute in favour of the Rhinos, but they failed to stop the push properly to waste the chance as the stalemate continued.
The Waveriders were slow to get off the blocks after the change of ends as the visitors secured two penalty corners in succession 10 minutes into the second half. But they wasted both the opportunities.