Kalinga Lancers handed defending champions Punjab Warriors their second heavy defeat in two days to qualify for the semifinals of the Hockey India League on Saturday. Lancers routed the hosts 7-0 to seal a spot in the knockouts.
However, Punjab Warriors’ last four hopes faded with their second heavy defeat in successive days, having lost 6-1 to Delhi Waveriders. Playing in their last home match in the league stage, Warriors failed to even collect one point for the second day due to the huge margin of defeat. Only losing teams with a margin of two or less get a point.
Kalinga Lancers finished their league campaign with five wins and a draw. Having collected 28 points in 10 matches, they are second in the points table.
Punjab Warriors, semifinalists in all the four previous editions, are at the bottom with 17 points from nine matches. They will be playing their last league match against Uttar Pradesh Wizards and their chances of qualifying are remote.
Kalinga Lancers were in an attacking mode from the beginning and their foreign player Adam Dixon gave them the lead in the ninth minute. Lancers got their first penalty corner, but their stopper fumbled and it rolled out of the striking area.
Adam was quick to trap the ball and he dodged past two defenders before scoring from a narrow angle, giving a 2-0 (two points for a field goal) lead to the visitors.
There was no stopping for Kalinga Lancers from there as they completely dominated from there. They scored again in the 24th minute when skipper Moritz Fuerste converted a penalty corner. Lalit Upadhay and Dharamvir Singh then scored field goals in the 34th minute and 39th minutes respectively.
Punjab forced around half-a-dozen penalty corners, but missed them. They came close in the 56th minute when SV Sunil seemed to have converted a field attempt, but it was disallowed following a video referral.
Dharamvir Singh, adjudged Man-of-the-Match, is playing his biggest tournament after missing last year’s Rio Olympics due to back injury. “When the league started I was bit cautious because of my previous injury, but as it proceeded, the level of my game also kept improving. I am pinning hopes on my HIL performance to be back in the national fold,” he said.