Hockey

Lancers steamroller Warriors

Happy bunch: Lancers players celebrate Lalit Upadhyay’s strike against Jaypee Punjab Warriors.

Happy bunch: Lancers players celebrate Lalit Upadhyay’s strike against Jaypee Punjab Warriors.  

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Defending champion consigned to the bottom of the heap

Jaypee Punjab Warriors ended its home engagements of the Hockey India League on a losing note, going down 7-0 to Kalinga Lancers on Saturday, to languish at the bottom of the table and in real danger of missing out on a playoff spot.

It was a continuation of a dismal season for the defending champion, boasting of three National captains and a slew of big names in its ranks, that began with a 10-4 humiliation against Dabang Mumbai and never picked up pace since. Even in the three wins its scored, two were contests won more because of the opposition’s mistakes than JPW’s excellence.

On Saturday, the host seemed to be going through the motions, with little or no co-ordination among its players and hardly a couple of shots at the goal, that went wide. The defence was in shambles and the offence non-existent. When names like Mark Knowles and Robert van der Horst make elementary trapping mistakes and Sardar Singh loses possession to a youngster like Lalit Upadhyay, it’s clear that the team has big problems to solve.

JPW lost its third player this season with Armaan Qureshi, who was hit on the shin against Delhi, ruled out of the remaining games. JPW earned eight penalty corners but failed to converted any, including three back-to-back in the dying seconds of second quarter.

Lancers, which finished runner-up last season, was a team with a plan and had the personnel to execute it.

Upadhyay, Dharamvir and Adam Dixon were sharp in the attack, assisted by captain Moritz Fuerste playing far upfront.

In the defence, Dipsan Tirkey and Amit Rohidas were stubborn as a wall, hardly letting any balls through. The few times they missed, goalkeeper Andrew Charter was up to the task.

Dixon failed to stop a push in his team’s first penalty corner but made up for it by chasing the ball and slotting it past two defenders and the goalkeeper to put Kalinga ahead in the 9th minute.

A second PC in the 24th minute found its mark and an unmarked Lalit was put through by Billy Bakker in the 34th minute to calmly slot the ball in — with eight Punjab players defending inside the circle — in the 34th minute to make it 5-0. Dharamvir rounded up the tally five minutes later.

While Kalinga ended its league stage with 28 points and is all set to finish in the top-four, JPW may find even a victory in its last match, to be played in Delhi, inadequate to make the cut with coach Dancer admitting as much after the game.

The result: Kalinga Lancers 7 (Adam Dixon 2 FG, Lalit Upadhyay 2 FG, Dharamvir Singh 2 FG, Moritz Fuerste 1 PC) bt Jaypee Punjab Warriors 0.

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Printable version | Jan 24, 2020 4:01:16 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/hockey/Lancers-steamroller-Warriors/article17327304.ece

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