HIL: Upbeat Warriors geared for hectic schedule

Punjab will take on Kalinga Lancers at the Kalinga Stadium on Fridaythe evening, just a day after trouncing Ranchi Rays. For Punjab, this is just the beginning of a tough phase, where the defending champion needs to balance between playing matches, travelling and ensuring its players’ speedy recovery.

Netherlands' Mink van der Weerden had a fine outing for Punjab against Ranchi Rays.   -  AP

Jaypee Punjab Warriors hardly had any time to celebrate its first win in the fifth edition of the Hockey India League after it routed Ranchi Rays 7-0 on the latter’s home turf on Wednesday night.

Punjab will do some training on Friday morning before taking on Kalinga Lancers at the Kalinga Stadium in the evening.

For Punjab, this is just the beginning of a tough phase, where the defending champion needs to balance between playing matches, travelling and ensuring its players’ speedy recovery.

“It is very hectic for us now. We started late in the competition and we finish before most teams finish. Our next eight matches are very concentrated and we have matches, rest, travel.

“A lot of matches in a very short period. But every team has a different challenge with the schedule,” said Punjab coach Barry Dancer.

Dancer was happy with Punjab’s massive win.

Great progress

“We made great progress. We had a bad performance in our first match against Mumbai.

“This was much better, but we have a lot more progress to make.”

The foreign players, especially Mink van der Weerden and Jake Whetton, had a fine outing against Ranchi as they not only scored goals but also played their roles on the field to perfection.

Among Indian players, Sardar Singh showed his competence all over the pitch, while the fast-moving S.V. Sunil scored two field goals to it a one-sided affair.

Punjab will look forward to improve its performance against Lancers, which has secured three wins including one against table-topper Dabang Mumbai.

According to Dancer, Lancers is a quality opponent. “They are near to the top of the table and they have shown in the early part of the competition that they have a strong chance of making it to the semifnals.”

Lancers, studded with overseas stars like Glenn Turner, Moritz Fuerste and Billy Bakker and accomplished Indians such as Dharamvir Singh and S.K. Uthappa, will be spurred by its fans to give Punjab a run for its money.