HIL: Delhi Waveriders' winless run continues

Delhi Waveriders dominated in its first home game of the Hockey India League (HIL) this season, but victory continued to elude even as Jaypee Punjab Warriors jumped to fourth position with a 3-2 win on Tuesday.

Jaypee Punjab Warriors Mink Van Der Weerden finds the net against the Delhi Waveriders.

Jaypee Punjab Warriors Mink Van Der Weerden finds the net against the Delhi Waveriders.   -  Shiv Kumar Pushpakar

Delhi Waveriders dominated in its first home game of the Hockey India League (HIL) this season, but victory continued to elude even as Jaypee Punjab Warriors jumped to fourth position with a 3-2 win here on Tuesday.

Delhi coach Cedric D'Souza had defended his team's defensive structure so far, claiming that they had done everything right except score. On Tuesday, the team was far more attacking, but a combination of off-target hitting and strong defence from Punjab meant it continued to languish at the bottom of the table, still seeking its first win.

It was perhaps what Punjab had expected, cutting down on its own attacks, packing its defence and depending more on counters to get the goals. There were fewer attempts, but one of them saw Satbir Singh snatch the ball past the half-line and send a cross-field pass to Robert van der Horst on the left, with the Dutch captain's reverse shot striking the board in the final minute of the first quarter.

Mandeep Singh, on the other hand, was the key player for Delhi and the youngster was also the busiest. He kept breaking through the Punjab defence from the left flank and was the architect of most of Delhi's scoring chances, including creating a couple of penalty corners. It speaks volumes about the youngster's confidence levels that he even managed to hustle Sardar Singh a couple of times, forcing the senior pro to get rid of the ball with a desperate pass.

Delhi was offensive all through, increasing the frequency in the last quarter that saw the game being played almost entirely in Punjab's half but the host couldn't find the target. A goalmouth melee in the 30th minute was cleared by Punjab goalkeeper Tristan Clemons twice. Three penalty corners went waste as Rupinder Pal Singh, strong in his defending, continued his struggles with the drag-flick and Mandeep kept shooting wide.

Tristan White did manage to level in the 38th minute but Mink van der Weerden converted the only penalty corner for Punjab to again put his side ahead. Delhi got its last penalty corner in the final few seconds, but tried to go for a field goal and lost possession. After losing narrowly in its last game, Punjab would be relieved to get its second win in the competition but with the number of chances that Delhi missed, the team only had itself to blame.

The result: Delhi Waveriders 2 (Tristan White 2 FG) lost to Jaypee Punab Warriors 3 (Robert van der Horst 2 FG, Mink van der Weerden 1 PC).

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