HIL: Delhi stays in the hunt for semis with win over Kalinga Lancers

Delhi Waveriders ensured it stayed afloat in the race for the semifinals of the ongoing Hockey India League with a determined 6-4 victory over Kalinga Lancers on Sunday.

TalvinderSingh

Talvinder Singh (front) celebrates after scoring a goal against Kalinga Lancers at Shivaji Stadium on Sunday.   -  R.V. Moorthy

An amazing piece of stickwork by the ever vibrant Mandeep Singh, with two minutes left on the clock, took Delhi Waveriders to a 6-4 victory over the second-placed Kalinga Lancers in the Hockey India League at the Shivaji Stadium here on Sunday.

Delhi led 3-0 at halftime following an early strike from Talwinder Singh and a penalty corner conversion from Justin Reid-Ross. But later it looked to have lost the momentum following two swift strikes by Dharamvir Singh and captain Moritz Fuertse for Kalinga, which counted for two goals each, in the third quarter.

In between, Kalinga had a penalty-corner goal disallowed following a video referral, which proved decisive in the final analysis. Delhi, cheered by a noisy crowd, did not lose hope and equalised through a stinging shot by Rupinder Pal Singh, who converted the team’s eighth penalty corner.

Comeback

The team had managed to convert only one of seven penalty corners in the first half, and it was a bolt from the blue for the home side. It showed the determination in the ranks, with three minutes left for the final hooter.

Of course, converting the penalty corners was a tough proposition for both the teams on one end, as it was difficult to trap the bouncing ball that often jumped awkwardly. Showing presence of mind, Justin had flicked one gently high to catch the defence and the goalkeeper off guard for the only penalty corner conversion that consolidated Delhi’s position in the first half.

As time was ticking, Mandeep made repeated attempts and followed up on the rebound to flick one home to send the crowd into a delirium. It was a well-deserved victory for the home team, which had revived its fortunes in the last match with a thumping victory over Uttar Pradesh. In its first home match earlier, Delhi had given a good account of itself before losing a close match to Punjab, which sits strong in the fourth place.

However, there is no doubt that with five points coming via this victory, Delhi could still fancy its chances for a semifinal berth, with three more matches to go. Quite notably, two of them will be at home in Delhi.

For a team that drew a blank from its first four matches, Delhi has really recovered lost ground to stay in the race for the knock-out phase. The fact that in the normal course, it would have been a 4-2 victory for Delhi, proved its domination on the day. The fact should not be lost that the goals fetched a point for Kalinga Lancers even in defeat and consolidated its position at the second place in the table.

The results: Delhi Waveriders 6 (Talwinder Singh 2 (FG), Manpreet Singh (2), Justin Reid-Ross, Rupinder Pal Singh) bt Kalinga Lancers 4 (Dharamvir Singh 2 (FG), Moritz Fuertse 2 (FG)).