- Delhi Wizards trounce Pune Strykers 6-2 win in a crucial tie
- Argentinian star Mario Almada (2nd min) and Vikas Pillay (44th min) score for the Strykers
- Upendra Pillay (14th min), Shakeel Abassi (21st min), Vikramjeet Singh (28th & 41st mins), Victo Singh (32nd & 63rd mins) script Wizards’ six-goal response
Maybe, some time in the future, a tournament will be conducted from the backend to the frontend. The theory will probably find many takers after watching Karanataka Lions’ terrific fightback from the brinks, and now Delhi Wizards. The Wizards seems to have saved their best performance for the final leg of the inaugural World Series Hockey as they mercilessly thrashed semifinal contenders, Pune Strykers 6-2 here on Monday.
An avid hockey fan had waited so long to witness players of the calibre of Rajpal Singh, Pakistani import Shakeel Abassi and talented youngsters like Vikramjeet Singh, Upendra Pillay and Victo Singh, to showcase their wares finally.
Displaying dazzling hockey, inspired by captain Abbasi’s individual brilliance, a completely transformed Wizards kept their semifinal chances alive with a sterling performance in do-or-die battle against Strykers. With 16 points, the Wizards are now placed sixth in the points table ahead of Strykers and Mumbai Marines.
The Wizards achieved their mission today with clinical precision through their frontline trio of Abbasi, Philip Sunkel and Victo Singh, who were firing all cylinders. On the other hand, defender Bikramjeet Singh, charger Jaswinder Singh and goalkeeper Kamaldeep Singh ensured the safety of their net. Like drag-flicker Imran Warsi in the other match of the day, Strykers’ PC expert Gurpreet Singh had an off day today, failing to strike in seven penalty corners, which proved to be the hosts’ undoing in this crucial tie.
Ironically, the Strykers were first off the blocks in the match. Mario Almada tapped in a slow feed to stun the Wizards in the very second minute but his team couldn’t hold on to the initial enthusiasm. The early setback seemed to have brought out the best from the Wizards as they managed to find the target from the most difficult angles and unimaginable moves. The gangling youngster Upendra Pillay launched the blitzkrieg in the final minutes of the first quarter. Pillay fell in his effort to trap a parallel pass from Victo Singh but retrieved it quickly to put the stick in the right angle and deflect the ball home, much to the frustration of goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh.
Then, German import Philip Sunkel showed his class to infuse life into the Wizards rank. He took a strong forehand from the right of circle, which Shakeel Abbasi, playing his best hockey in the league so far, dived to see it home and excitedly threw his hands up in celebration. Bikramjeet Singh tested the roof of the net twice in the 28th and 41st minutes. In between, Victo Singh entered his name on the scoreboard and returned to strike another with seven minutes left for the hooter. Vikas Topo converted a penalty stroke to increase the Strykers tally, but the hosts had clearly failed to counter the numbers game this time.
Goal Scorers for Pune Strykers:
Mario Nicolas Almada 2′ (FG)
Vikas Topo 44′ (PS)
Goal Scorers for Delhi Wizards:
Upendra Pillay 14′ (FG)
Shakeel Abbasi 21′ (FG)
Vikramjeet Singh 28′ (PC)
Victo Singh 32′ (FG)
Vikramjeet Singh 41′ (PC)
Victo Singh 63′ (FG)
Credits: World Series Hockey