Former Hockey India League champions, Delhi Waveriders are stuck in the bottom of the points table in the six-team competition. The 2014 champions, having lost two of their first three matches and drawn one to collect four points, will know where they stand in the next fortnight.
With as many as seven matches to be played in the next two weeks, the team led by Indian stalwart Rupinder Pal Singh needs to drastically improve if they are to make it to the last four. So far, they have managed to score just two goals, conceding four.
After Monday’s break, the league resumes on Tuesday with Delhi facing holders Punjab Warriors in their first home game. “It’s a crucial match for us. We need to click inside the striking circle,” the India drag-flick expert told HT.
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In the first three matches, Delhi could not turn possession into goals. But defeating Punjab, another team that hasn’t done well as a unit so far, will be vital, says Rupinder. “It’s always good to win the opening home match. It gives you an edge, a positive feeling, when you are trailing at the bottom. Each of the next seven matches though is important, but the focus right now is on Punjab.”
The top three teams in the six-team league have established a clear lead. Dabang Mumbai are atop the field with 18 points, while Kalinga Lancers and 2015 winners Ranchi Rays have 15 points each. (Sunday’s match between Lancers and Mumbai in Bhubaneswar might change the top order).
With six points Uttar Pradesh Wizards is fourth while Punjab Warriors are fifth with five points.
Delhi face UP Wizards on Wednesday before taking on Lancers on Sunday. “The whole week is important. It’s time to work on right combination and move ahead of our rivals. Missing opportunities could make things difficult for us,” Rupinder said.
The third leg of the league starts on February 15. The preliminary round ends on February 22 and semifinals will start on February 25 in Chandigarh.