Dabang Mumbai thumped Kalinga Lancers 5-2 at the Kalinga stadium in Bhubaneswar on Sunday to take a crucial step towards reaching the semi-finals of the Hockey India League (HIL).
Harmanpreet Singh’s 23rd-minute successful penalty corner conversion was followed by field goals from Florian Fuchs (31st) and Gurjant Singh (53rd) as the Jay Stacy-coached side leapfrogged Kalinga to take the top spot with 23 points from seven games.
The match between the two top-placed teams of the table, lived up to the hype early, forcing both goalkeepers -- David Harte of Mumbai and Andrew Charter of Kalinga -- to keep away penalty corners. While Charter denied Jeremy Hayward, Harte foiled Moritz Furste thrice 10 minutes into the game.
Harte rose to the task again in the 20th minute as a square pass from Lalit Upadhyay opened up Mumbai defence and Glenn Turner’s cut back to the right had Harte at the mercy. But Lalit’s hasty tap in met a diving Harte to keep the deadlock going.
At the other end, Mumbai managed to break the deadlock as Harmanpreet converted a penalty corner by firing to the right post corner giving no chance to defender Devinder Walmiki in the 23rd minute.
The western outfit then tightened their grip on the match as a ripping back-hander from Fuchs following a Sander de Wijn pass from the left caught Kalinga defence by surprise. The field goal meant Mumbai led 3-0 and it would be a big test for the hosts.
With this goal, Mumbai gained further confidence and penetrated Kalinga circle on multiple occasions. Even though they didn’t get any more goal in the third quarter, their attack helped them subdue the hosts.
As the match inched closer to the final hooter, Kalinga showed some desperation, including couple of fine solo runs from Tom Craig, but the result was absent. They tried a penalty corner variation to make it a field goal opportunity but Harte and his defence stood tall.
Any hopes of their comeback was killed by Gurjant’s scorching back-hander from a very tight angle from the left in the 53rd minute as the visitors grabbed a 5-0 lead.
Three minutes later, Glenn Turner ignited the home crowd’s hopes when he slammed home a right cross from Dharmvir Singh. But it was the last goal of the match, meaning Kalinga lost 2-5 in their final home game.
Despite the defeat, Kalinga remained in the second spot with 21 points from seven matches, while third-placed Ranchi Rays have 17 points from seven games. Uttar Pradesh Wizards are in the fourth spot with eight points from three matches.
Jaypee Punjab Warriors are fifth with six points from three matches and Delhi Waveriders are sixth and last with four points from three matches.