Delhi Waveriders virtually sealed their place in the semifinal of the Hockey India League with a crushing 5-2 win over second-placed Ranchi Rhinos on Friday.
The Rhinos defence, without their star defender Birendra Lakra, had an off day as Gurwinder Singh Chandi scored a brace, while Simon Child, Rupinder Pal Singh and Gurbaj Singh scored a goal each for Waveriders.
The Waveriders, still unbeaten in the league, now have 39 points, 10 more than Rhinos.
The Rhinos started with Sushant Tirkey in the goal instead of Cortes, and the move backfired terribly. In the third minute, Chandi got a good ball from the left flank, but mistimed his strike.
The ball came slowly towards Tirkey but he was unable to clear it with his foot and the visitors took an early lead.
Four minutes later, another mistake by Tirkey made it 2-0 for Bansal's team. Simon Child collected a mis-hit from Rhinos' defender Amit Rohidas inside the circle, and with Tirkey charging too early, the New Zealander managed to hit the target.
Rhinos immediately replaced Tirkey with Cortes.
Rhinos had their chances, when they earned penalty corners in the 11th and 19th minutes. But the hosts were unable to execute the plan on both occasions.
The Waveriders delivered another blow in the second quarter, with Chandi scoring one of the best goals of the tournament so far.
A minute after the Rhinos had missed a scoring opportunity, Akashdeep gave a brilliant pass to a charging Chandi from the left flank.
Chandi made a fabulous diving connection and managed to generate good pace to beat Cortes.