Jaypee Punjab Warriors remained in firm control enroute a 3-1 victory over Dabur Mumbai Magicians in a ninth round tie of the Hero Hockey India League at the Mahindra stadium, remaining in third place with 25 points from nine games.
The loser remains at the bottom of the five-team tournament with 13 points.
The visitors ran away deserving winners, the defence standing out for calm interceptions and tackles and helping the midfield remain in control, and working out ways to deny Sandeep Singh’s drag flicks thrice.
Goalkeeper Bharat Chetri blocked one direct attempt, and Gurmail Singh rushed out to hustle the Mumbai drag-flicker once, capping an excellent collective effort by the rearguard.
Dwyer got the first close look at the Mumbai goal in the first quarter, darting into space for a swift shot on the move. Sreejesh booted away one try but was unbalanced when Dharamvir swept home the rebound.
Meanwhile, Chhetri was substituted by giant Dutchman Jacob Stockmann in the Punjab goal.
Stepping it up
Both teams stepped on the pace in the second quarter.
Chinglensana broke free on the left flank, ran onto the ball and twisted his way in, but Mark Knowles negated the threat. Punjab focussed on ball possession and had the personnel to execute the plan.
The second goal came off a counterattack along the right wing. Simon Orchard found space behind the defence to divert a pass into overlapping Hammond’s path for the latter to slot home with a first time effort.
Punjab had players in formation behind the ball and cut off Mumbai forwards. Sandeep Singh’s absence on the field — due to a rolling substitution — forced Mumbai to try out an indirect variation, and Jonny Jasrotia moved in at the right time and tapped home before Chhetri, back in goal, reacted.
The penalty corner was the home team’s first of the game, coming in the third quarter.
Punjab’s response was swift and telling. Dharamvir found Malak with a long ball from the centreline for a feint and tap across Sreejesh.
India teammate Chetri, guarding the citadel at the other end, anticipated a drag-flick from Sandeep to his right and negated the penalty corner specialist’s first attempt of the match.
The scores: Punjab Warriors 3 (Dharamvir Singh, Robert Hammond, Malak Singh) bt Mumbai Magicians 1 (Jonny Jasrotia).
Punjab Warriors is now in third place with 25 points Mumbai Magicians is at the bottom of the table
Punjab Warriors is now in third place with 25 points
Mumbai Magicians is at the bottom of the table