HIL: Delhi banking on miracle for semi-final spot

A string of losses at home derailed Delhi’s chances of making the semi-finals and it now has to rely on other results for qualification.

Delhi Waveriders lie fifth in the HIL table.   -  Sandeep Saxena

Despite an impressive start to the fourth edition of the ongoing Hockey India League, winning three of its first four games, Delhi Waveriders are now in a situation where even a victory in their last match may not be enough for the former champion to ensure a spot in the semi-finals.

A string of losses at home derailed Delhi’s chances and even though it can still make the grade, the team admits it is never a good feeling waiting on other results to ascertain its own future.

“It is difficult and we know the other games will be equally important for our result. But we also know that results, especially that of other teams, are not in our control. What is is our own performance and we are concentrating only on that and looking to go out and give our best in the last match,” admitted defender Rupinder Pal Singh to Sportstar.

A win in its previous game against table topper Ranchi Rays - incidentally the only league game where Ranchi came off without a point - has upped the team’s morale, even though the players remain realistic about their chances. Kiwi goalkeeper Devon Manchester, who pulled off a dozen saves in the previous game to ensure Delhi’s first win at home, admitted the team was keeping a tab on the other results.

“You have to accept that a goalkeeper can never win you a game, he can only try and ensure you don’t lose. At the end of the day the forwards have to score the goals at the other end. That said, I think we proved against Ranchi that we can win if we play to our strengths. If we perform the way we did in the opening games and then in the past few, I am sure we can get a positive result.”

“We have a good defence, a good penalty corner battery that can be dangerous and some good strikers, so there isn't anything to change as such,” Manchester added.

Rupinder, though, admitted the team had been trying too hard to win, resulting in errors. “Once we concede goals, we get desperate to level scores and go on the attack and I agree that, in the process, the defence gets a bit wobbly. But now that we have identified the problem, we are working on it and will get it sorted before the next game. Hopefully we are still in the race by then,” he said.