Delhi Waveriders were held to a 1-1 draw by Uttar Pradesh Wizards in their first away match of the Hockey India League (HIL), here on Saturday.

Despite the draw, the Delhi Waveriders, who had won their first two encounters at home against Jaypee Punjab Warriors and Mumbai Magicians, remain at the top spot in the league standings with 12 points from three encounters.

Contrary to the final result, the Waveriders came out all guns blazing in the first quarter and penetrated the opposition’s striking circle at will. Their efforts bore fruit in the sixth minute when New Zealand’s Simon Child scored with a reverse hit.

The UP Wizards slowly clawed their way back into the match and earned two penalty corners in the dying minutes of the first half but to no avail. The Wizards began the second quarter with much more intent and Olympian V.R. Raghunath restored parity for the hosts with his trademark drag-flick in the 24th minute of the game.

There was hardly anything to choose between the two teams thereafter. Though the visitors had better hits on goal, none of the teams really looked threatening enough and yellow cards to Waveriders captain Sardar Singh and Yuvraj Walmiki only pegged them back.

Both the skippers - Raghunath of Wizards and Sardar of the Waveriders - expressed satisfaction with the final result and said they would look forward to press for victory in their next respective encounters.

UP Wizards coach Roelant Oltmans said, “We didn’t commit too many errors for our opponents to capitalise on. In my opinion both teams played equally well. There were some issues with our players today and we had to bench them otherwise I am sure we would have scored a few more goals. We are happy that the team didn’t lose the game today, gaining some points from this match will surely help us in the future matches where we plan to recover full points.”

Delhi Waveriders coach A.K. Bansal too was satisfied with the final outcome of the game. Speaking at the post-match press conference coach Bansal said: “We were prepared and went all out in this game, but the match was tough and well matched. Our Australian and South African players were not in the game and we saw dip in performance in the second quarter. Nevertheless, we bounced back in the third and fourth quarter.

Uttar Pradesh Wizards will take on Ranchi Rhinos in the first of the double header at Guru Gobind Singh Sports College on Sunday, while Mumbai Magicians will host Jaypee Punjab Warriors in Mumbai in the second game of the day.

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