Delhi Waveriders had been desperate to find its rhythm in the second edition of the Hockey India League, and its first home match, against bottom-placed Kalinga Lancers, provided the perfect occasion.
The Waveriders took full advantage, winning 5-0 to go top of the table with 11 points from three games, along with Jaypee Punjab Warriors.
Last year’s runner-up, Waveriders, were the dominant side all through. With some of the best players in its ranks, including India captain Sardar Singh, the host was always the favourite. But the manner of its victory would be a concern for the other franchises.
The Waveriders toyed with the opposition, making it appear a bunch of amateurs in a professional league.
Like a well-oiled machine, Waveriders built their attack around Sardar, with Gurbaj Singh and Simon Child providing the necessary support from either side of the midfield.
Former India captain Arjun Halappa put his experience to good use, creating openings upfront. The attacks came at will, and the defence and goalkeeper Nicolas Jacobi were hardly tested.
Rupinderpal Singh opened the scoring in the 13th minute, converting the game’s first penalty corner.
He got another in the 30th minute while Lloyd Norris Jones, Matt Gohdes and Danish Mujtaba got one each.
For the Lancers, it was similar to the drubbing they had suffered in their first game. The Indian players in their ranks were just not up to the mark.
It was sad to see someone like Prabodh Tirkey, once considered a successor to the hugely talented Dilip Tirkey, stand clueless in the defence.
The only bright spot for the newcomers to the competition was the performance of the foreign stars. Captain Kiel Brown tried his best to bring some sharpness to the attack.
Ryan Archibald, along with Argentine Gonzalo Peillat, tried to give his team stability in the middle but the Lancers just didn’t have enough firepower.
The result makes Waveriders’ next match — at the same venue against Punjab Warriors on Friday — all the more crucial.
The result: Delhi Waveriders 5 (Rupinderpal Singh 2, Matt Ghodes, Danish Mujtaba, Lloyd Norris Jones) bt Kalinga Lancers 0.