Magicians back in familiar lane

Punjab Warriors completed their domination over Mumbai Magicians in the Hockey India League by scoring their third win against the hosts with a 3-1 margin at the MHA Mahindra Stadium here on Thursday.

In a fast-paced encounter, Warriors – who had beaten Magicians 4-2 in their first leg clash at this venue and then 4-3 in the second meeting at home – looked a better side in attack as well as defence, especially in the opening half, to emerge deserving winners.

Magicians, down 1-3 at the beginning of the third quarter, forced three penalty corners but their main goal-getter, captain Sandeep Singh, who is the leading scorer in the league with 11 strikes, was unable to score even once.

All the goals for Warriors, who led 2-0 at half-time, were field efforts and were notched up by Dharamvir Singh (7th minute), Robert Hammond (22nd) and Malak Singh (52nd) while Jonny Jasrotia reduced the margin with an indirect penalty corner effort in the 47th minute.

The ninth-round victory put Punjab on 25 points, still third in the table behind leaders Delhi Waveriders (34 points from eight games) and Ranchi Rhinos (29 from eight) while their eighth defeat from nine encounters had Magicians on 13, one point earned from the game.

Magicians’ only victory so far has been a 4-0 rout of Uttar Pradesh Wizards on Wednesday.

The hosts just lost their way when nearing the rival ‘D’ for most part of the opening half, though they fought hard in the second half after being 0-2 down at the halfway stage. For Warriors, star forwards SV Sunil and Jamie Dwyer, the captain, combined very well up front with good feeds from the likes of Dharamvir and Ignace Tirkey.

The deep defence of the visitors was also very good with Mark Knowles and Tirkey showing calm demeanour in clearing the ball and their man-to-man marking was also effective, especially in the opening half when they had the clear edge.

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