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Crucial war ahead for Warriors

Maratha Warriors will not only have to overcome inactivity but also the absence of key forward Hemant Gethe when they take the field on Wednesday, reports B Shrikant.

india Updated: Jan 30, 2007 23:26 IST
B Shrikant
B Shrikant

Getting back into a tournament after a gap of 22 days is difficult. But what is worse for a team already short of attacking options is starting afresh without
a key forward.

Maratha Warriors will not only have to overcome the inactivity of three-week gap between two matches but also the absence of key forward HemantGethe when they take the field for their fifth match of the third edition of the Premier Hockey League (PHL) at the Mayor Radhakrishnan Stadium in Chennai on Wednesday.

The Warriors will be facing hosts Chennai Veerans and would be hoping to get back into rhythm from the onset so as not to lose any more points in the remaining matches in Chennai. They have one more match against Orissa Steelers in the first leg of PHL on February 4.

Western Railway forward Chandrakesh Kumar comes in for Gethe, who twisted his left-knee during practice in Mumbai and suffered a ligament tear that has put him out of action for nearly three months.

Though the Warriors had practiced at Mumbai and also had some lengthy sessions after reaching here four days back, chief coach Mukul Pandey acknowledged that they go into the match against Veerans far worse state
then they started in the tournament.

“Tomorrow’s match will definitely be a tough one. We are starting after a big gap and that too with a depleted strike force. We hope to make the most of our chances and not lose any points. The senior players will have to share the burden as Chandrakesh does not have much experience of playing in PHL,” said Pandey.

Pandey said they would continue to play with five midfielders, utilising their strength in half-line to stifle the opposition’s attacks and launch swift counter-attacks.

“We had some good sessions in Mumbai during which we ironed out few problems in the forward line and defence. The boys are keyed up so I am expecting a
good show from them in the next two matches,” said Pandey.

The Warriors are on five points from four points in the league led by Sher-E-Jalandhar with 11 points from five matches followed by Bangalore Lions on nine from five games. The Veerans have six points and Wednesday’s clash will help the winner inch closer to the top three.

Coach Mohd Riaz’s team has got a boost with Spaniard Albert Casas and Kuhan Shanmughanathan joining the squad along with Mohd Zubair of Pakistan. Casas joined the team on January 15 while Kuhen came back from Malaysia on Monday after attending to his hospitalisedfather.

“We are now full strength and Casas and Kuhan’s presence will lend experience to the team. The boys had a short break and are now fresh and raring to go,” said Riaz.

Though both the teams are full of confidence, one would have to see whether they are able to put up a good show on Wednesday and breath fresh life into a
tournament that has been singularly uninspiring as far as standard of hockey is considered.

A fast-paced, well-fought encounter on Wednesday may bring back the crowds and rev up the contest that the Shers and Lions are looking set to dominate.

Points tally

 Team P W EW L EL GF GA Pts
 Sher-E-Jalandhar 5 3 0 0 2 10 4 11
 Bangalore Lions 5 2 1 1 1 12 10 9
 Orissa Steelers 4 2 1 1 0 5 3 8
 Chennai Veerans 4 2 0 2 0 7 9 6
 Maratha Warriors 4 0 2 1 1 4 5 5
 Hyderabad Sultans 5 1 1 3 0 4 9 5
 Chandigarh Dynamos 5 0 1 2 2 2 4 4

First Published: Jan 30, 2007 20:44 IST