HIL: Dabang Mumbai seals sensational win

Dabang Mumbai registered a comprehensive 8-3 victory over Delhi Waveriders in the Hockey India League at the Shivaji Stadium.

Delhi Waveriders' Rupinder Pal Singh exults along with his teammares after scoring the goal against Dabang Mumbai in the Hockey India League   -  Sandeep Saxena

Nine minutes was all it took for Dabang Mumbai to leapfrog from bottom of the table into semifinal contention after registering a comprehensive 8-3 victory over Delhi Waveriders in the Hockey India League at the Shivaji Stadium here on Tuesday. It was its third consecutive win of the competition.

The host, with its third defeat on the trot at home and with 17 points and just two more games remaining, is all but out of the race for the semifinals, barring some exceptional performance and favourable permutations from other teams. Given the way its defence collapsed in the last 10 minutes on Tuesday, however, that appears unlikely.

That was, in fact, the only period of any excitement in the match. For a major part, the game was confined to the midfield with few scoring opportunities and fewer attempts at breaking the deadlock.

Close marking by the teams also meant there was little room to manoeuvre for the players. After a barren first quarter, Steven Edwards made the most of a goalmouth melee to put Delhi ahead in the 22nd minute.

Rupinder Pal Singh converted the team’s second penalty corner to increase the lead in the 39th minute. But there was no concerted attempt from either side to add momentum to the game that appeared to be meandering away to a tame end before Danish Mujtaba perked up the proceedings and opened up the floodgates.

Receiving the ball on the move from Vikas Sharma on the right, Mujtaba shot in from the top of the striking circle in the 49th minute to reduce the margin moments after Mumbai’s only penalty corner went waste.

Three minutes later, Affan Yousuf put Nilakanta Sharma through and the latter struck from in front of the goal to put Mumbai ahead.

That appeared to stun Delhi, which went on the defensive, but there was no structure as the host perhaps realised the game was slipping away. Desperately throwing everything into the defence did not help and despite almost five defenders in the circle, a brilliant Gurjant Singh managed to move pass them all and unselfishly send the ball to Andrew Philpott, whose backward pass found Manpreet perfectly positioned to sound the board.

With the score-line 6-3 for Mumbai, Delhi changed its goalkeeper as a last-ditch attempt to contain the damage and ended up conceding another field goal a minute later, again by Manpreet, as Harjot Singh hardly got time to settle down before it was all over.

The result: Dabang Mumbai 8 (Manpreet 4, Gurmail Singh 2, Nilakanta Sharma 2) bt Delhi Waveriders (Steven Edwards 2, Rupinder Pal Singh (PC)).

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