HIL: Warriors crushes Lancers to win title

Punjab, playing its third consecutive final, dominated first time finalists Lancers throughout the game and hardly gave the opposition any space. It was a masterclass on hockey by Punjab. The team led by Sardar Singh was spot on in everything it did.

Punjab Warriors' Jasjit Singh Kullar (28) takes the ball away from the Kalinga Lancers defender. Punjab dominated the game all through and hardly gave any space to the opposition.   -  Manob Chowdhury

Jaypee Punjab Warriors was third time lucky, being crowned champion of the fourth Hockey India League with an emphatic 6-1 victory over Kalinga Lancers in the final here on Sunday.

Punjab, playing its third consecutive final, dominated first time finalists Lancers throughout the game and hardly gave the opposition any space. It was a masterclass on hockey by Punjab. The team led by Sardar Singh was spot on in everything it did. In the process, Sardar became the only captain to lift the HIL title twice, with different teams, having led Delhi Waveriders to the trophy in 2014.

Waveriders finish third

Earlier, Delhi Waveriders beat Ranchi Rays 2-0 in the playoff for the third place, becoming the only team to finish on the podium in each of the four editions even as Rupinder Pal Singh capped off an impressive season with his fifth Man of the Match award.

The assault began in the fourth minute when Armaan Qureshi, put through by Matt Gohdes, made no mistake in slotting the reverse hit in from the top of the striking circle. Punjab got a couple of penalty corners as well but couldn't convert even as Kalinga skipper Mortiz Fuerste got one of his own to reduce the margin in the 24th minute. That was to be the only highlight for Kalinga as Punjab came out post half time with renewed energy to end all Kalinga hopes.





Moritz kept trying and got able support from Pradeep Mor but the Punjab defence was too strong and accurate to breach. The third quarter changed the game completely. Sardar Singh put through S. V. Sunil in the 39th minute and the latter, drawing the three Kalinga defenders inside the circle towards himself, coolly put through a waiting Gohdes in front of the goal to deflect in. Three minutes later, Satbir Singh shot in from the top of the D to make it 6-1.

Sardar and Knowles made all the difference

Sardar and Mark Knowles were the men who made all the difference. The Indian skipper and his Australian counterpart made sure nothing went past them either in the midfield or in defence. Knowles, in particular, was everywhere and his impeccable trapping and passing set up the maximum scoring chances for Punjab.

Kalinga threw everything into the game in the final 10 minutes, earning three penalty corners but it wasn't to be its day.

In the earlier game, Ranchi was outplayed in most departments and the team looked out of sorts with the players being erratic in the basics and unable to control the ball effectively. Coach Harendra Singh admitted his players struggled early on to recover after a hard-fought semifinal on Saturday. It showed as the intensity was missing and the players were unable to complete most of the scoring moves, hitting wide or conceding turnovers.

Delhi, on the other hand, learnt from its mistakes, closed down its defence effectively marshalled by Rupinder and went for quality instead of quantity during attacks. That meant lesser possession but more control.

Mandeep Singh got the only goal of the match in the 18th minute off the third shot at the net due to a defensive lapse after Ranchi goalkeeper Tyler Lovell had blocked the first two attempts. Ranchi earned a handful of penalty corners but couldn't convert with Ashley Jackson off-colour.

Results:

Final: Jaypee Punjab Warriors 6 (Armaan Qureshi 2 FG, Matt Gohdes 2 FG, Satbir Singh 2 FG) bt Kalinga Lancers 1 (Moritz Fuesrte PC)

Third place playoff: Delhi Waveriders 2 (Mandeep Singh FG) bt Ranchi Rays 0.