Ranchi Rays, Kalinga Lancers to cross swords in eastern derby

Defending champions Ranchi Rays and Kalinga Lancers will look to outwit each other and continue their winning streak when they face each other in a round robin match of the fourth Hockey India League, here on Thursday.

Ranchi Rays and Kalinga Lancers are tied with 11 points apiece.   -  Manob Chowdhury

Defending champions Ranchi Rays and Kalinga Lancers will look to outwit each other and continue their winning streak when they face each other in a round robin match of the fourth Hockey India League, here on Thursday.

Ranchi Rays began their campaign on home turf on a winning note by defeating Delhi Waveriders 2-1. But their opponents, Kalinga Lancers, too have been equally successful both at home and away.

Their latest conquest was in Lucknow, where they overcame the competitive Uttar Pradesh Wizards 10-2.

The upcoming clash between the two Eastern giants will be an encounter that hockey lovers from across the country will be eagerly waiting for.

Ranchi Rays began their journey in the fourth HIL with a loss against Jaypee Punjab Warriors, but the title holders raised their game thereafter and defeated Uttar Pradesh Wizards in Lucknow and Delhi Waveriders in Ranchi on Tuesday.

Their captain Ashley Jackson, who has been a part of the squad ever since their inception, has shown his consistency year after year and even in this edition he has been the highest goal scorer for the team.

With five goals to his name from three matches, Jackson is currently second in the goal scorers list.

Ranchi Rays’ encounter against Kalinga Lancers is expected to be one of the most awaited encounters in the league, especially when Jharkhand and Orissa are the talent hubs for the national team for many years now.

Some of the other key players to watch out for in the squad will be star drag-flicker Sandeep Singh, Simranjeet Singh, Kothajit Singh, Manpreet Singh and Birendra Lakra amongst the Indians, while Barry Middleton, Fergus Kavanagh and Tyler Lovell will add to the international strength for the defending champions.

Crowd support key

Speaking about tomorrow’s clash, Ranchi Rays head coach Harendra Singh said: “It’s going to be a good contest. Both the teams like to play attacking hockey. The crowd is playing the biggest role for the home team by charging up the players to give their best. We believe the crowd will continue their support as always and the boys will have to control their emotions and play their basic game.”

Kalinga Lancers also began their campaign in the ongoing HIL on a similar note, losing their first home match to Uttar Pradesh Wizards. However, they came back strongly to register consecutive wins defeating Dabang Mumbai and Uttar Pradesh Wizards.

Glen Turner has turned around their scoring capacities this year, scoring a total of 10 goals for the team. He also leads the goal scorers list.

Kalinga Lancers, with 11 points in their kitty, currently share the lead in the point’s tally of the HIL along with Ranchi Rays, Jaypee Punjab Warriors and Delhi Waveriders.

Talent cocktail

“We are fortunate to have a beautiful mix of players in the team with experienced international players and some very talented Indian players. It’s been this mix that has helped us so far and we are confident that it’s this mix only which will help us for the rest of the league. It’s a big match tomorrow but we want to play our regular game and give the spectators a good game of hockey,” said Fuerste, captain of Kalinga Lancers.