One did not have to wait for the action to begin on the turf of the National Stadium here on Thursday to figure out what the teams were thinking going into the penultimate league match.
The UP Wizards started without their drag-flicking captain VR Raghunath. But more glaring was an omission on the other team sheet. Gurvinder Chandi, who has impressed throughout the inaugural Hockey India League with his darts down the flank, had been rested.
Unbeaten going into the match and assured of the top spot, hosts Delhi Waveriders had nothing to play for — quite evident in the way they went through the motions, particularly in the first half. The Wizards, however, did — a win for them would have changed the semis line-up. Win they did, and how — a 4-1 thrashing serving as a wake-up call for the league’s leaders.
Jeroen Hertzberger controlled a long pass before smashing the reverse hit high into the net, S Uthappa benefited from Delhi’s defensive mix-up in the area, and Nithin Thimmaiah feeding P Somanna, who made it 3-0.
The Waveriders pulled one back through Andrew Hayward’s drag-flick, but the Wizards made sure their opponents did not earn a point by restoring a three-goal difference, Thimmaiah this time setting it up for M Gunasekar.
Club WC in India?
After an IPL-style tournament, Indian hockey might get to see a variant of cricket’s Champions League Twenty20 as early as next calendar year. FIH president Leandro Negre revealed that the federation is mulling a club World Cup to be hosted by India for at least four years starting 2014.
“It is only a proposal which is still being discussed,” said Negre. The eight-team event will feature the continental champions from Europe, the Americas, Africa and Oceania, the winner of the HIL, as well as two wildcards. It will be played on the weekend before HIL in a direct knockout format.