Intense action is expected in the Hero Hockey India League (HIL) over the weekend as the event reaches its knock-out phase, starting with the semifinals at the Astro-turf Hockey Stadium here on Saturday.
The city has already given its thumbs-up to the event as almost all of Ranchi Rhinos’ quota of six home matches have been played before packed galleries. The semifinals and the final will be no different.
Everyone in the stands will pray for a mouth-watering Ranchi Rhinos-Delhi Waveriders title clash on Sunday. But no one can take Uttar Pradesh Wizards and Jaypee Punjab Warriors, the other two semifinalists, for granted.
Rhinos, holding a 2-1 win-loss record against the team from Uttar Pradesh, is proud of its formidable midfield and will be keen to give its best in the last-four contest.
The likes of Floris Evers, Moritz Fuerste, Austin Smith, Manpreet Singh and Birendra Lakra will again try to control the proceedings and get the better of the Wizards, featuring stars like Teun de Noojier, Luke Doerner and Dutch forward Jeroen Hertzberger.
The battle between Waveriders and Warriors is expected to be equally exciting. Having lost to Waveriders thrice in a row, Warriors, captained by the inspirational Jamie Dwyer, will try to find chinks in Waveriders’ armour.
Waveriders, which has lost just one of its 12 matches, has been served well by its able leader Sardar Singh and a bunch of fast-moving strikers. The team has scored 37 goals in 12 matches and most of them have come through the effort of its forwards, including Oscar Deecke, Simon Child and Gurvinder Chandi. So far, 13 players have found the mark for the Waveriders and that speaks of the variety in its attack.
Warriors, consisting of several Aussie players, has to curb its inconsistency to come good against Waveriders.
Whatever be the results, Ranchi is all set to experience a high dose of hockey entertainment.