|Delhi Waveriders’ players, support staff and co-owner John Abraham celebrate their victory, in Ranchi, on Sunday
Ranchi: Delhi Waveriders defeated Punjab Warriors in the penalty shoot-out to emerge as the champions in the second edition of the Hero Hockey India League (HIL) at the packed Astroturf Hockey Stadium, here, on Sunday.
It came as a befitting result for last year’s runners-up Waveriders, who made their second consecutive HIL final. The Waveriders beat Warriors 3-1 in the shoot-out after the teams were locked 3-3 at the end of the regulation.
Majority of the credit should go to the Waveriders goalie Nicolas Jacobi, who had a brilliant day under the bar and made numerous saves to guide the Waveriders to the title.
Apart from making quite a few saves in the regulation time, Jacobi stood like a rock in the shoot-out to deny Warriors’ first three attempts before Robert Hammond scored from the one-on-one situation.
But it was not enough as the Waveriders converted scored three out of their four chances in the shoot-out to run away with the glittering trophy and Rs 2.5 crore prize money. The Warriors took home Rs 1.25 crore.
The Warriors started on a positive note in the summit clash and took the lead as early as in the opening minute of the match through Mark Knowles’ who scored from a field effort.
The Waveriders did not sit back and pressed hard for the equaliser and in the process secured a penalty corner in the eighth minute but Rupinder Pal Singh’s try was deflected wide by Lucas Rey.
The Waveriders kept up the pressure on the Warriors’ citadel and their efforts bore fruit as they scored two goals in a span of two minutes to go into the breather with a 2-1 lead.
Lloyd Norris Jones first drew parity in the 33rd minute with a fierce forehand strike after receiving a pass from Akashdeep Singh before captain Sardar Singh (35th) scored from a penalty corner after latching on to a rebound.
It turned out to be an exciting contest after the breather as both the teams relied on attacking, fast-paced hockey to outplay each other.
The Warriors came up with some impressive forays and made use of the opportunities that came their way. The Punjab outfit scored two field goals in the third quarter in quick succession to restore their lead.
Shivendra Singh (45th minute) first cleverly deflected in Gurmail Singh cross from the right flank before young striker Affan Yousuf (48th) found himself at the right place inside the circle to restore Warriors’ lead.
But Warriors’ joy was short-lived as Yuvraj Walmiki drew parity four minutes later with a fierce forehand from inside the circle after receiving a diagonal pass from Andres Mir Bel.
In the final quarter, the Warriors enjoyed a clear upper hand with a host of defence-splitting run into the rival circle but to no use. The Warriors’ consistent raids forced the Waveriders to go into a defensive mode in the final 17-and-a-half minutes of the match.
They were in complete control of the fourth and final quarter but failed to convert their chances into goal.
The Waveriders, on the other hand, relied on counter-attacks but they too failed to trouble the scorers as the match went into shoot-out.