HIL: Walmiki blow for Lancers ahead of home ties

Forward Devendra Walmiki was declared unfit for three weeks after injuring his shoulder in the match against Dabang Mumbai.

Kalinga Lancers (white) are placed joint second with 17 points after five matches.   -  Prashant Nakwe

The Kalinga Lancers, riding high on three away wins, have the edge when they begin their crucial three-match home challenge of the fourth edition of the Coal India Hockey India League. They face Delhi Waveriders for the first time in the tournament in the first of three ties at the Kalinga Stadium here on Friday.

However, the Lancers received a setback when talented forward Devendra Walmiki was declared unfit for three weeks owing to injury. He injured his shoulder in the match against Dabang Mumbai and will not figure in the league anymore. In his place, Karnataka forward M.G. Poonacha will take the field.

“As it is an Olympic year we did not want to take any risk with Walmiki, who is an important player in the Indian team,” said manager A.B. Subbaiah.

Lancers, after five matches, are placed joint second with 17 points, along with the Waveriders and Jaypee Punjab Warriors, both finishing six matches respectively. They need just two more victories to qualify for the semi-finals.

Despite an early loss to Uttar Pradesh Wizards in the inaugural tie, the Lancers regrouped admirably and played some brilliant hockey by registering three wins – twice against Dabang Mumbai (4-2 and 6-4) and Uttar Pradesh Wizards (10-2). But the defeat against defending champions Ranchi Rays (2-3) is still bothering the team management.

Leading the home side will be the marauding Australian Glenn Turner who is the top scorer of the tournament with 10 goals. He will be supported by Englishman Adam Dixon, Lalit Upadhyay, Malak Singh and Stanli Minz in the attack.

The pressure will be on the defence and the onus will be on drag flicker Gurjinder Singh.

Two back-to-back losses to Uttar Pradesh Wizards and Jaypee Punjab Warriors a few days ago on their home turf created a dent in the morale of the Delhi Waveriders. The visitors need to exhibit something special to check the dream run of the host team.

A good number of penalty corner fumbles by ace drag flicker Rupinder Paul Singh hampered the team’s progress against the Wizards. “I could not find the gap to put the ball through,” lamented Rupinder

Waveriders have to make an effort to fortify their defence and add more teeth and variety to their attack. “We have ironed out our mistakes and are keen on not repeating them,” said Waveriders coach Cedric D’Souza.

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