Struggling Wizards ride on Sreejesh magic

Uttar Pradesh Wizards' V.R. Raghunath exults after scoring against Delhi Waveriders. Photo: Sandeep Saxena

Uttar Pradesh Wizards' V.R. Raghunath exults after scoring against Delhi Waveriders. Photo: Sandeep Saxena  

Eleven penalty corners and not one resulted in a goal as the Delhi Waveriders lost 4-6 to Uttar Pradesh Wizards in its opening home game of the fourth Hockey India League here on Monday.

The former champion was thwarted by UP goalkeeper P.R. Sreejesh, who ensured only the second win for his team after three consecutive losses at home. The India goalkeeper stretched, dove and sprinted to keep the Waveriders’ strikers at bay. At the other end, the forward line finally came good.

The under-pressure visitor, struggling to score despite playing attacking hockey, was desperate for victory. Defender Wouter Jolie had admitted the team was looking to play 60 minutes the way it did for the first 30 so far and the players seemed up for the challenge.

Starting aggressively as always, Wizards got the first chance early on but Ramandeep Singh hit straight to the Waveriders goalkeeper Devon Manchester.

The host lost no time on the counter and earned its first penalty corner but Rupinder Pal Singh’s shot was parried by a stretching Sreejesh. The end-to-end game saw both teams going on the offensive in the second quarter but muffed chances upfront — Mandeep’s pass from the backline going waste for Waveriders and Harmanpreet Singh’s solo effort sailing over the post for Wizards — before UP got its first penalty corner and Raghunath made no mistake in sounding the board. Waveriders earned six back-to-back penalty corners at the stroke of half time but Sreejesh and Raghunath saved them all.

The last two quarters saw both teams going all out for the goals and earned a series of PCs but the game was confined largely to the midfield. It took Chinglensana Singh, receiving the ball on the go and slamming it into an empty goal, to re-energise the proceedings in the 54th minute.

A minute later, Jamie Dwyer stamped his class with a solo run from the half line past three defenders to put Akashdeep Singh through. Crossing over into the striking circle, he received the ball back and sent it into the net to extend the lead.

With nothing to lose, the host threw everything into the game and seconds later, Justin Red-Ross got his team on the scoresheet with a brilliant reverse hit. A penalty corner to either side saw UP add one more to its tally while Delhi successfully sent the ball out of the striking circle in an attempt to get a field goal and Talwinder Singh did the job. It was, however, too little, too late for the host.

The result: Uttar Pradesh Wizards 6 (Chinglensana Singh 2 FG, Jamie Dwyer 2 FG, V.R. Raghunath PC, Gonzalo Peillat PC) bt Delhi Waveriders 4 (Justin Reid Ross 2 FG, Talwinder Singh 2 FG).

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Printable version | Mar 30, 2020 7:40:25 PM |

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