Waveriders edge past Warriors
Own goals dash Punjab hopes in opening match
Laser show, blaring music, fireworks and eye-catching stunts, Hockey India League brought out the pomp to good effect as the inaugural edition of the tournament kicked-off at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium on Monday.
The crowd, too, turned up in good numbers and cheered the home team -- Delhi Waveriders -- during their 2-1 victory over Jaypee Punjab Warriors.
Waveriders, playing an attacking game, had the Warriors in trouble on many occasions in the fast-paced game. Unfortunately, both their goals came through the stick of their opponents but that didn’t undermine their sterling performance. Roger Borrell Padros (42nd minute) scored for Warriors.
Waveriders were clearly the better team, making numerous forays into the citadel of the Warriors who, however, had the security of one of the best goalkeepers in the world in Dutch Jacob Stockman.
New Zealand's lethal striker Simon Child, donning Waveriders’ colours, set the tone in the opening minutes when he breached the defence to reach near the goalpost before being stopped.
Throughout they kept the Warriors on their toes, running in with furious pace and purpose, as such Stockmann was a very busy man this night. He was rightfully chosen for the man of the match award.
Waveriders opened their account in the 14th minute when Oskar Deecke’s cross from the top of the circle was deflected in to the net by Warriors’s Gurinder Singh while attemping to clear the ball. Waveriders only upped the ante since then, leaving the visitors to do the catching up job.
They soon doubled the tally. Gurvinder Chandi (23rd minute), bursting from the right flank, sent a cross right in front of the goalmouth and Mark Knowles’ stick saw it in the 22nd minute. Warriors for the second time scored for the Waveriders and entered the half time trailing 0-2.
The first half was also marked by an unsavoury incident when two men broke into the pitch, screaming anti-Pakistan slogans in the backdrop of recent firing at the border in Kashmir before being dragged out by the security personnel, and it justified the decision of both the teams to not to field their Pak players.
Meanwhile, the Warriors regrouped themselves in the second half to open their account. A speeding SV Sunil’s pass came right to Padros who volleyed the ball in the 42nd minute. But that was all Warriors could muster. Waveriders, alert and on guard, didn’t make any more mistakes and deservedly won the warm accolades from the crowd on a chilly winter night.