Hockey India League: Winners Ranchi Rays out, Delhi Waveriders in semis
Delhi Waveriders overcame a slow start to their campaign to reach the semifinal, but Ranchi Rays did not despite finishing their group campaign with an impressive win.other sports Updated: Feb 22, 2017 11:10 IST
Bottom-placed Ranchi Rays had nothing to lose in their last preliminary league encounter against Delhi Waveriders on Tuesday. But there was a slight chance of their qualifying for the semifinals of the Hockey India League (HIL), if they won by a margin of eight points or more.
Ranchi Rays, however, fell short of the target as they could only score a 3-1 (6-2 on points) victory. Two points are awarded for each field goal and one for a penalty-corner conversion. Despite winning, Ranchi Rays faced the exit door.
Delhi Waveriders, placed third on the points table with 23 points, are through to the semifinals.
Perhaps, with the aim of making it to the top four, Ranchi Rays went on the attack from the word go. Excellent teamwork helped them earn three goal-scoring opportunities in the first quarter, but they were successful in scoring only in the ninth minute through midfielder Manpreet Singh.
Ranchi Rays continued to raid Delhi Waveriders territory in the second quarter, but narrowly missed the target. They were awarded three penalty corners, but failed in all attempts.
Ranchi Rays’ strategy to unsettle Delhi Waveriders seemed to be working throughout the contest. It kept the Waveriders defenders on their toes with defender Rupinder Pal Singh, the skipper, having to work overtime to keep the rival forwards at bay.
Ranchi Rays’ second goal came in the third quarter, with Manpreet Singh scoring a field goal in the 32nd minute, while Imran Khan took the tally to three in the 37th minute.
The match reached its climax in the last quarter with Delhi Waveriders going all out to save the day. One more successful attempt by Ranchi Rays could have spoiled their semifinal party. With renewed energy, the hosts went for the attack. And in the 45th minute, Justin Reid Ross scored a field goal to give respite to his team.
Thereafter, despite having an upper hand, Waveriders continued to miss. Mandeep Singh’s shot went wide while Talwinder Singh’s close-range shot was padded off by goalkeeper Tyler Lovell.
On Wednesday, the last league match between Uttar Pradesh Wizards and table-toppers Dabang Mumbai, will be played in Lucknow. Both teams have already made it to the semifinals. Kalinga Lancers is the fourth team in the semis.