Delhi raring to strike

Delhi raring to strike

 After playing two away games, Delhi Waveriders start their campaign on their home ground, Major Dhyan Chand Stadium, where they will look to boost their challenge in the second edition of Hero Hockey India League.

Last year’s runners-up, Waveriders play back-to-back matches against newcomers Kalinga Lancers (Thursday) and Punjab Warriors (Friday), who lead the table with 11 points from three matches.

The Sardar Singh-led outfit has lost some crucial players from their side this season -- Germany’s Oskar Deecke, Andrew Hayward, Dean Cousins and goalkeeper Nicolas Jacobi -- to name a few. They also have a new coach in former India international Cedric D’Souza.

The Delhi side had impressed with its consistent play last season and started this edition from where it had left off last year. They beat Warriors 3-1 away from home in the opener in Mohali and would hold the edge when they meet them. Waveriders, however, slumped to a 1-0 defeat against defending Champions Ranchi Rhinos in their second outing in a rematch of last year’s final.

With six points from two matches, the Waveriders begin as favourites against the unfancied Lancers. Lancers, coached by Terry Walsh, do not boast of big names. In a forgettable debut match on Tuesday, they paid price for lapses in defence and were hammered 7-3 by Warriors at home.

Australian forward Russell Ford and Argentine defender Gonzalo Peillat, who scored a brace with his dragflicks against the Warriors, are the best bets for the young Lancers.
Walsh, who has spent only week with the side, felt his wards were “nervous” in their debut match but had faith they would grow better with time. “It was our first match and the boys were a bit nervous and made a lot of mistakes. We are already behind a year as compared to other franchises. But we will grow and become better.

Waveriders are a very good side. Ours is a young side. We have some impetuous heads, some steady heads. Hope we can get it right tomorrow,” Walsh said.
The Waveriders, however, would hope to log full points against the Lancers before turning their attention to the formidable Punjab Warriors, laden with star players, the next day.

Waveriders have benefited from the good form of Australian striker Jason Wilson, who scored a brace against Warriors.  Simon Child, Talwinder Singh, Askashdeep Singh and Yuvraj Walmiki are other exciting players in the forward line. While Sardar has marshalled the mid-field with earnestness, the defence line has capable players in draflicker Rupinder Pal Singh and Steve Edwards of New Zealand.

“Unlike last year where we got a week to practice, we didn’t get much time. But we have a fit and experienced team. We will follow our own strategy. We hope the crowd will fill in the stands to cheer the team,” Sardar said.

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