Delhi Waveriders overcame Kalinga Lancers 4-2 (6-4 on points) in a Hockey India League match to send a large Sunday crowd home a happy lot. After winning Wednesday’s tie against Uttar Pradesh Wizards, the Waveriders’ overall showing gave a glimpse of their resolve to fight to the end.
Despite trailing the Lancers by two goals and with time running out, Waveriders captain Rupinder Pal Singh raised the level of his game, converting a penalty corner to draw parity (4-all on points).
With less than two minutes remaining, and the near-packed stadium waiting with bated breath, Mandeep exhibited good stickwork inside the circle and weaved past the Lancers’ defence to beat goalkeeper AK Pandey, scoring the winning goal.
The Waveriders weren’t overawed by the reputation of their opponents, currently placed second. After narrowly missing at least three goal-scoring opportunities, Talwinder Singh set the scoreboard moving with a superb field goal in the ninth minute.
The fact that the Waveriders earned eight penalty corners was proof of their domination. However, they could convert only two, which pointed to a poor conversion rate. Justin Reid Ross though converted in the 29th minute to make it 2-0.
The Lancers failed miserably to gel as a unit in the first two quarters. Their captain Moritz Fuerste, an experienced German player, was found wanting on several occasions. Credit also goes to Waveriders’ goalkeeper Vincent Vanasch for frustrating the Lancers’ frontline, which included Dharamvir Singh and Devinder Walmiki, in the first two quarters.
However, Kalinga came back into the game in the third quarter to narrow the lead through Dharamvir in the 40th minute, and taking the lead in the 54th minute through Fuerste Moritz. The joy, however, were short-lived as Waveriders dug deep to make a superb comeback.
Two back-to-back wins on home turf have strengthened the Waveriders’ resolve to play steady in the remaining home games. In the last phase of league matches, the Waveriders will play all their four matches on home ground --- against Dabang Mumbai, Punjab Warriors, Uttar Pradesh Wizards and Ranchi Rays.
Delhi are placed fifth with 15 points. After a day’s break on February 14, the race for the semifinal berths will gather steam.