Gurjinder Singh’s successful penalty corner conversion gave Kalinga Lancers a 1-0 victory over Delhi Waveriders in their opening match of the Coal India Hockey India League (HIL) at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar on Sunday.
The home crowd had to wait until the 47th minute for the opening goal as Gurjinder blasted the penalty corner chance to the right top corner of Delhi goalkeepr Vincent Vanasch’s goal to make it 1-0.
Former champions Delhi Waveriders got as many as six penalty corners but were not able to convert them as Rupinder Pal Singh and his team had a day of missed opportunities.
Last edition’s runners-up Kalinga looked the better of the two at the beginning as far as the team coordination and cohesion is concerned but Delhi had the first potent opportunity to score.
Mandeep Singh found a ball with some space but he took time to shoot, allowing Kalinga defender to close the space down and forced his shot to go wayward in the 10th minute.
Three minutes later, Kalinga’s cohesion seemed to have clicked in the 13th minute when Dutch playmaker Billy Bakker played a one-two with Glenn Turner to set up beautifully from the baseline but Dharamvir Singh’s touch was heavy as the ball soared into the stands.
Delhi, playing with a high-pressure and high-intensity game, earned a penalty corner in the 21st minute. Rusher Matthew Dawson charged down to block Rupinder Pal Singh’s flick, and the home crowd was relieved.
Kalinga mixed the build-up play with the counter-attacking game and penetrated the Delhi circle regularly towards the end of the second quarter. In one such moment, Bakker was again in the centre of action but he was denied by an alert Delhi goalkeeper Vincent Vanasch.
After the 10-minute break, Delhi stepped up their game and earned two penalty corners but they failed to make them count. While one was wasted due to poor trapping, the other saw Rupinder again failing to beat the first rusher, Amit Rohidas.
Delhi’s day of missed opportunities continued when Talwinder Singh, leading a fierce counter-attack, had only goalkeeper Andrew Charter to beat. But seeing the danger, Charter came ahead from his place to dive and see off the threat. The Australian custodian was again asked to palm away a ripping back-hander from Manuel Brunet.
Meanwhile, Moritz Furste could only see a deflection go to side-netting following a brilliant move from Dipsan Tirkey from the left.
Kalinga, however, made the most of the sole penalty corner chance when Gurjinder fired home, making it 1-0.
After conceding the goal, Delhi looked more determined for their opening goal. They earned two penalty corners but the Kalinga defence stood tall, ultimately wriggling out a 1-0 win.
After the match, Kalinga skipper Furste said that it was good to begin their campaign with a win but have plenty of room to improve.
The German also felt that they have a tough match against former champions Ranchi Rays on Monday.