Hockey certainly is on a revival path in the country, or so one felt after seeing huge crowds at the National Stadium on Saturday, the venue for the crucial Hockey Indian League tie between Delhi Waveriders and Mumbai Magicians.
The vociferous crowd gave the home team the much-needed boost as they registered a 4-3 win over the Magicians to book a semifinal berth. The loss, however, dealt a serious blow to the Mumbai outfit, who are virtually out of the five-team competition.
In a keenly contested match, the Waveriders made the most of the home advantage, racing to a 3-0 lead in the first quarter. Imran Khan slotted one while Lloyd Norris-Jones sounded the board twice.
The Magicians, who looked like wilting in the first quarter, made a surprise comeback in the second, with Sandeep Singh converting a penalty corner. Fighting with their backs to the wall, the Mumbai team again came back in the last quarter, scoring two more goals through Sandeep, but the drag-flicker's effort went in vain.
Lucknow: Ranchi Rhinos have chosen a unique way of celebrating their goals and victories. They go into a huddle and place their right hand on the foreheads to make a unique gesture, signalling dominance.
They did it several times on Saturday after scoring a 3-1 win against hosts UP Wizards, who were supported by thousands of fans. This was the Rhinos' second straight win against the Wizards after their 2-0 victory at Ranchi on Thursday.
Mandeep Singh (58th, 67th) and Tarandeep Singh (69th) scored for the winners, while Jeroen Hertzberger (68th) reduced the margin for hosts.
Breaching the defence, it seemed, was the most difficult task for both teams in the first three quarters, and despite the best efforts, play was confined to the midfield. Just when it seemed the match was headed for a draw, young Mandeep swung into action and scored twice, before Hertzberger pulled one back for the hosts.
Results Delhi Waveriders 4 (Imran 6th, Lloyd Norris12th, 22nd, Rupinder Pal 51st) bt Mumbai Magicians 3 (Sandeep 28th, 56th, 66th). Ranchi Rhinos 3 (Mandeep 58th, 67th, Tarandeep 69th) bt UP Wizards 1 (J Hertzberger 68th).