Ashley Jackson brought his drag-flicking ability to a new high, converting two penalty corners to give defending champions Ranchi Rays their second successive win by defeating Delhi Waveriders 2-1 in the Coal India HIL here at the Morhabadi Astroturf Stadium on Tuesday. Egged on by a raucous holiday crowd, the home side doubled the Republic Day fervour, erasing a goal’s deficit to make a spectacular comeback in the end. Rays had beaten Uttar Pradesh Warriors (4-2) in Lucknow in the previous outing to pick up their first win.

Looking to extend their successful ‘away’ run, where they had two emphatic wins against Jaypee Punjab Warriors and Uttar Pradesh visiting the latter, the Wizards went in the lead early in the second quarter. The hosts created and missed some early opportunities in both the first and the second quarters when Imran Khan’s goalmouth pass went wasted, while captain Jackson pushed his first penalty-corner attempt straight into the DWR goalkeeper Devon Manchester.

Rupinderpal Singh found the net off a mighty flick to give DWR the lead much against the run of play. The hosts were attacking in hordes and the visitors went defensive pushing more men around the goal. The Rays enjoyed the initial leverage and tried to find a field goal and make the most of the new regulation that doubles the goal count if it comes off the normal process. Rupinderpal’s fine effort changed the equation all of a sudden, forcing the home side to scamper into a damage control situation.

Jackson, the hosts’ game-maker, got the Rays back in the game by the end of the second quarter, helping them to successive penalty-corners, one of which the captain scored himself to restore parity in the 29th minute. Encouraged by the late equaliser, the Rays started on a strong note after the change of ends and found the leveller in the very first minute (31st) of the third quarter. Jackson produced a variation compared to his previous successful effort and put the ball into the net beating the onrushing DWR defenders.

The hosts held on to the slender lead for the remainder of the action and thwarted at least two good efforts from DWR. The first one came off a Rupinderpal whose drag-flick in the 33rd minute almost went home, hitting the Rays’ goalkeeper Lovell Tyler. But an alert Barry Middleton cleared it from the line to help the hosts retain the lead.

The win helped Ranchi Rays tally 11 points from three matches and join Kalinga Lancers, Punjab Warriors and DWR, who are all tied at 11 points each in the current league standings.