HIL: With Mumbai grabbing last four spot, Delhi to do all the heavy lifting

Sitting pretty on 28 points – the Mumbai side has already booked a semifinal slot for itself for the first time ever in the competition. Whereas, Delhi has no such luxury. The former champion is struggling at the bottom and desperately needs to continue its winning momentum at home.

The only two matches Mumbai has lost have been against equally or more attacking sides, Ranchi and Kalinga.   -  Vivek Bendre

When Dabang Mumbai step out on to the Shivaji Stadium turf on Wednesday for its penultimate league match in the fifth season of the Hockey India League (HIL) against Delhi Waveriders, Jay Stacy's men would do so with the confidence of a team that has little at stake at this stage of the competition.

Topping the leaderboard and sitting pretty on 28 points – with five wins in eight games – the Mumbai side has already booked a semifinal slot for itself for the first time ever in the competition.

The worst that can happen here on is a couple of losses in the remaining two matches and thereby losing its top spot. As such, the team would be hoping to iron out the few creases it has had and ensure enough match practice for the entire squad.

Delhi has no such luxury. The former champion is struggling at the bottom of the six-team tournament and desperately needs to continue its winning momentum at home.

It won the last two matches comprehensively but the defensive structure, which has been its strength all through, appeared shaky against an attacking Kalinga Lancers in the previous match.

With Tuesday being a rest day, coach Cedric D'Souza would be hoping that the combination of Iain Lewers and Rupinder Pal Siingh continues to stand strong at the back.

It would be all the more important given that Mumbai has been extremely free-flowing in its attacks with Robbert Kemperman and Florian Fuchs repeatedly ensuring victories in the dying minutes of the game.

The only two matches it has lost have been against equally or more attacking sides, Ranchi and Kalinga.

“We are not looking at the table. It's good to be in the playoffs. We played well last season also but lost a few close games. We have tried to carry on the team's development from the last season this time and we are seeing the results. We are winning the close matches but there is no complacency,” Stacy said.

Delhi has tried to do just that in its last two games, moving away from an over-defensive gameplan to a more open style of play. It has paid dividends but stretched the defence.

The fact that it was a defensive lapse that led to a close 2-3 defeat playing away to Mumbai would be on the team's minds.

Wednesday's schedule: Delhi Waveriders v Dabang Mumbai (7 pm).