HIL semi-final: Kalinga overcomes UP Wizards in shoot-outs

Uttar Pradesh Wizards should have wrapped up the game in regulation time but wasted chances by the dozen, both in open play and through penalty corners

Kalinga Lancers’ Billy Bakker does a ‘Bhangra’ after scoring a field goal.   -  AKHILESH KUMAR

Uttar Pradesh Wizards (UPW) paid the price for profligacy, losing 4-3 in the shoot-outs to Kalinga Lancers after drawing 4-4 in regulation time in the first semi-final of the Hockey India League here on Saturday. This would be the second straight final for Kalinga, which finished runner-up last year.

UPW should have wrapped up the game in regulation time but wasted chances by the dozen, both in open play and through penalty corners (PC). It earned seven PCs but couldn't convert any despite two of the biggest specialists in the business in its ranks – VR Raghunath and Gonzalo Peillat. It kept entering the circle and taking shots at the goal but every forward worth his name either hit wide or straight into the body of Andrew Charter, who was impenetrable on the day. The Australian saw Florent van Aubel tap in a deflection from Dutch compatriot Arthur van Doren in the fourth minute but thereafter, let no ball that past him.

Assisted by a composed defence of Amit Rohidas and Dipsan Tirkey, Charter stood tall amidst repeated assaults. However, UPW was guilty of not having enough players upfront to convert half chances. Shots from Akashdeep Singh, Ramandeep Singh, Agustin Mazzilli and Van Doren all went sailing past the goal with no one to tap them in. The first and last quarters, in fact, were all about UPW but to no avail.

In contrast, Kalinga had fewer chances but made sure they counted. A PC was not stopped cleanly but the team kept control and Devinder Walmiki tapped in before Moritz Fuerste added another to his impressive tally of PCs to level scores in the 35th minute before Billy Bakker chipped in a rebound to pout the team ahead in the 46th minute. Akashdeep finally scored two minutes from time to take the game into shootouts.

In the shootout, UPW again took a 2-0 lead before missing the next three as Kalinga levelled even as both PR Sreejesh and Charter did their best under the bar. The sudden death then saw Aran Zalewski and Lalit Upadhyay score for Lancers even as Akashdeep's shot rebounded off the crossbar. This was the second time UPW lost a semi-final in sudden death, having suffered a similar fate in 2015 against Ranchi Rays. The team would now be hoping to do better in the bronze medal playoff on Sunday to win its second medal in the tournament.

The result (Semifinal): Kalinga Lancers 4 (Billy Bakker 2 FG, Moritz Fuerste 1 PC, Devender Walmiki 1 PC) bt Uttar Pradesh Wizards 4 (Florent van Aubel 2 FG, Akashdeep Singh 2 FG) in shootouts.

Shoot-Out score: KL 4 (Lalit Upadhyay 2, Aran Zalewski 2) bt UPW 3 (Florent van Aubel 2, Agustin Mazzilli).