If the second leg of the Premier Hockey League which began in Chandigarh on Monday was expected to bring in the crowds that were missing in Chennai, it did not disappoint.
Off the field, there was enough excitement to keep one engaged. On field, however, it appeared only one team had turned out for the match.
Maratha Warriors started with a rush of attacks and kept at it till the hooter finally went off, signaling the end of a nightmare for Bangalore Lions. The defending champions were in disarray as the Warriors kept coming at their goal with amazing regularity.
The Warriors were on a mission. Lying second from the bottom of the points table with seven points and no wins in regulation time, they were expected to attack more with Australian Jamie Dwyer joining the ranks.
However, the man they should thank for the win was goalkeeper Adrian D'Souza, who neutralised Len Aiyappa's drag-flicks.
Lions got four penalty corners with Aiyappa attempting three. All of them were saved by D'Souza, especially the second PC, when he brilliantly palmed away a cracking shot.
For Lions, their defence was a muddle and the midfield hardly visible. In fact, the way they played, it was hard to imagine this was the same team that brimmed with energy last year.
Up front, the Warriors were led by talented Shivinder Singh, who opened the scoring. A momentary lapse by Lions' goalkeeper Bharat Chetri saw Shivinder put his team ahead in the 19th minute.
It became 2-0 when Warriors' Pakistani import Imran Warsi slammed home a direct hit off their second penalty corner.
Two minutes later, unmarked Chandrakesh had only to tap the ball in after receiving a brilliant Shivinder pass from an acute angle. He messed it up. The Lions reduced the margin after a rare counter-attack that saw Hari Prasad slot the ball home.
But if they thought it would force the Warriors to fall back, they were mistaken. If anything, they only upped the tempo, and things were put beyond doubt by Hardeep Singh who made it 3-1.
Monday's win also pushed the Warriors up to third spot with 10 points. Lions are at fourth spot with nine points.