HIL: Delhi thrashes JPW as race to semis enters home stretch

Defending champion Jaypee Punjab Warriors was pushed to the bottom of the Hockey India League points table with a 6-1 thrashing from Delhi Waveriders on Friday.


Iain Lewers converts a penalty stroke for Delhi Waveriders on Friday.   -  Akhilesh Kumar

Delhi Waveriders had come into the game against Jaypee Punjab Warriors (JPW) here on Friday placed bottom and desperate for a win to stay in the race. It managed to do so in emphatic fashion, winning 6-1 to not just jump up to the third spot but also relegate the defending champion to the bottom and have it facing a real danger of missing out on the playoffs, for the first time ever.

A goal-bound shot from Manuel Brunet was padded off by JPW goalkeeper Tristan Clemons and the rebound hit in by Mandeep Singh found the ball land squarely on Varun Kumar's chest on the goalline, conceding a penalty stroke and a suspension for the latter in the 44th minute. Iain Lewers calmly stepped up and added two goals to Delhi's tally. It was the final blow to JPW's hopes of getting any points from the match and summed up coach Barry Dancer's frustration with disciplinary issues in his side.

Delhi put up a dominating display of both attack and counter-attack, helped along by shoddy finishing from JPW. The host created fewer chances and the ones it did were wasted by mis-trapping and being off-target. Delhi, on the other hand, kept coming on in waves and only some exceptional saving from goalkeeper Tristan Clemons prevented the margin of defeat from being even higher.

Delhi's assault began early - Mark Knowles pushed Mandeep Singh at the edge of the circle and conceded a penalty corner. Justin Red-Ross's shot found Varun Kumar's leg and a second PC, on referral, was converted successfully to put the visitor ahead. It became 2-0 in the 17th minute through another PC, this time by Rupinderpal Singh, even as Punjab saw Sardar Singh, S.V. Sunil, Mark Gleghorne, Jake Whetton and Ajit Pandey all miss scoring chances.

One-sided second half

Gleghorne's conversion of a PC of its own saw JPW go into half-time just one goal behind but it was a different story post-break. Punjab showed no desperation upfront even as Pandey missed an easy chance in front of the goal. Iain Lewers and Surender Kumar ensured there were no unmarked JPW players lurking in front of the goal and cleared every ball that came close.

Mandeep Singh seems to be increasing in confidence with every game. His passing was again on target as the youngster moved out of his comfort zone to buoy the Delhi wingers in opening up the gaps. He was again at the right spot, tapping in a rising ball from Parvinder Singh to open up the lead to 4-1.

Dancer admitted his team disappointed in every department and at every moment. The host now has less than 24 hours to recover and win its next game here to keep its hopes alive of making it to the semifinals. With Chandigarh set to host the play-offs and the final as well, the host may well end up missing out on its own party.

The result: Delhi Waveriders 6 (Mandeep Singh 2 FG, Iain Lewers 2 PS, Justin Reid-Ross 1 PC, Rupinderpal Singh 1 PC) bt Jaypee Punjab Warriors 1 (Mark Gleghorne 1 PC).

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