Hockey

Sandeep saves the day for Rays

With this win, the Ranchi-based side have secured 21 points from five matches, five points clear of second-placed Delhi Waveriders (16 points).

Sandeep Singh made his brief appearance count as he converted a penalty corner to help host Ranchi Rays top a formidable Jaypee Punjab Warriors 5-4 in a keenly contested Coal India HIL fixture at the Morabadi Astroturf Stadium here on Saturday.

Sandeepcame in for the captain Ashley Jackson as the host earned back-to-back penalty corners in the third quarter of the action. Sandeep, who has not been tried much by Rays so far in the tournament, proved a point with an acrobatic finish.

His first effort was saved by the Warriors’ Australian goalkeeper Tristan Clemons but Sandeep changed the direction of his next drag-flick to catch the visiting defence off guard.

Earlier, the Warriors made a good start and put the host under pressure with incisive moves down the flanks. Armaan Qureshi made the most of the initial dominance and scored the opener in the seventh minute. The young India international foxed a host of Rays’ defenders and dribbled clear of the opposition goalkeeper Tyler Lovell before finishing with a fine half-volley.

The second quarter had the Rays showing greater resolve and their better organised midfield checked the free run of the opponents. Amir Khan had the first opportunity of levelling scores but his attempt was not sharp enough to beat Clemons.

Kothajit Singh, the versatile defender, made a fine overlap in the next minute and his sharp drive from the left flank went home hitting the stick of Australian midfielder Mark Gleghorne. The host doubled the lead in the 28th when a fine combination between Australians Timothy Deavin and Daniel Beale saw the latter finding the target (4-2).

The visitors doubled the aggression after the change of ends and found the equaliser in the first minute of the third quarter when Satbir Singh sent home a rebound after the Rays’ custodian Lovell failed to clear a powerful cross from Simon Orchard. With the scores level (4-4) both sides went for the winner and it was finally Sandeep who made the difference.

With four successive wins Rays tally is now 21 points from five matches while Warriors have 12 from their five outings.

The result: Ranchi Rays 5 (Kothajit Singh 2FC, Daniel Beale 2FG, Sandeep Singh) bt Jaypee Punjab Warriors 4 (Armaan Qureshi 2FG, Satbir Singh 2FG).

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Printable version | Mar 31, 2020 4:39:24 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/hockey/Sandeep-saves-the-day-for-Rays/article14028783.ece

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