Hockey

Punjab to meet Delhi

After experiencing success in its inaugural year, HIL is all set for a bigger show. Even though the World Cup in May assumes top priority for most, no country (barring Germany which has withheld its youngsters) has really restrained its players from participating in the month-long cash-rich event.

Punjab Warriors, which hosts Delhi Waveriders in the league opener on the pink-and-blue turf here on Saturday, is relieved that it does not have to travel by road to Jalandhar for home matches.

“We have far less travel this year. The performance should be of high quality as the players will be physically better prepared and mentally fresher,” said Warriors coach Barry Dancer.

The team, which has included four Indians (Sandeep Singh, Affan Yousuf, Satbir Singh and Karamjit Singh) and two foreigners (Australian Jacob Whetton and Argentine Augustin Mazzilli), expects a better performance than its fourth-place finish last year.

Ace Australian striker and the marquee player of the side, Jamie Dwyer, said the league would be more exciting.

“It will be less challenging, we are going to play 12 matches instead of 14, and more exciting since we have six teams.”

Dwyer was happy that this edition did not have the ‘own goal’ rule and would prevent players from dangerously smashing the ball into the circle.

Last year’s runner-up Waveriders, with a new coach in Cedric D’Souza, will try to live up to its reputation.

However, it will have to start cautiously as some of its key players, such as Danish Mujtaba and Akashdeep Singh, are making a comeback after injury layoffs.

“There are a lot of changes in the team this year but all the players are in good form. Punjab is a robust team but we are good too,” said D’Souza.

Dancer cautioned his team about Waveriders. “We lost to Delhi last year and a win will boost our confidence. Our attack will decide the game,” said the Warriors coach.

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Printable version | Sep 27, 2020 11:15:13 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/hockey/punjab-to-meet-delhi/article5615001.ece

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