On his last visit to the state capital in December, Harendra Singh had a different role to play. He not only taught the players how to achieve perfection but also motivated them to excel in all departments and do the wonders.
Harendra’s magical words did work and India won their maiden Junior Men’s Hockey World Cup title, beating Belgium 2-1. Almost after two-month time, the story is a bit different for him. It’s cash-rich Hockey India League and here professionalism as coach is more demanding as well as entertaining.
But, showing same signs of confidence in his style, Harendra is again aiming for a win for cricketer Mahendra Singh Dhoni-owned Ranchi Rays, which meet resilient Uttar Pradesh Wizards, at the Major Dhyanchand Stadium here on Thursday.
“For me, winning always comes first and it makes no difference to me weather it is a game of the Indian juniors or a professional team in HIL. What is important for me is the game of hockey and I even consider this game against hosts important,” Harendra told HT.
In their last meeting at Ranchi, the two sides split the point by playing a goalless draw but after enjoying a 6-2 win against defending champions Jaypee Punjab Warriors at Chandigarh on Monday, the home side would look to continue their winning spree. The onus would again be on captain VR Raghunath, who is expected to excel with his penalty corner-conversion skills on a bouncy turf.
After splitting points with Kalinga Lancers in their first home game here last week with a last-minute goal, UP Wizards looked altogether a different unit against Warriors. Shamsher Singh, Ajay Yadav and Akshdeep Singh helped the side not only score the three goals, but also allowed the side to dominate at least in three different quarters of the game.
Champions of 2015 edition Ranchi Rays have also been going through ups and downs this season. After crushing Kalinga Lancers 7-2 in their opening game, the side could win only against Dabang Mumbai 7-3 after losing to Japyee Punjab Warriors 0-7 in other game. Before coming to the state capital, they again had a solitary goal loss against Japyee Punjab Warriors.
Thursday’s tie would be quite crucial for both the sides as a win here would brighten their chances for a place in the semi-finals as Ranchi Rays have 18 points in eight matches, whereas UP Wizards are currently at the fifth position in six-team event with 15 points, but only in six games.