Ranchi, 10 January 2013: Consistent Delhi Waveriders and fluent Ranchi Rhinos will fight it out in front of Ranchi crowd to decide who will be crowned the winner of the inaugural Hero Hockey India to get richer by Rs 2.5 crore on Sunday.
The two teams booked a date in the summit clash in contrasting fashion with the Rhinos clinching the victory (4-2) over Uttar Pradesh Wizards in the first semi-final, while Waveriders outplayed the Warriors but required a 68th minute strike from Lloyd Norris Jones to seal a 3-1 victory on Saturday.
On current form, the Waveriders would definitely start as favourites having beaten the Rhinos in two of their previous three encounters and the 5-2 margin of victory in their last game at this very stadium would definitely give them the confidence to take on the Rhinos, who are banking on home support in their bid to become the first team to lift the HIL trophy.
The Waveriders have been solid in all departments of the game and their biggest asset has been the contribution of all their players in both offence and defence. Almost all their strikers have found their name on the scoresheet in the competition and the leadership of Sardara Singh has lent them solidity in the defence and midfield.
On the other hand, Rhinos have been extremely creative in their midfield and the young Mandeep Singh has led their attack with aplomb and has scored 10 goals so far in the competition.
The youngster was again on target on Saturday to force the Wizards into submission and it would be interesting to see what strategy Waveriders’ coach A K Bansal devises to stop the striker from scoring.
The other player who could worry the Waveriders is local boy Birendra Lakra, who has had an exceptional tournament and has been the creative lynchpin of the team. The Waveriders had successfully nullified his influence in their last three meetings but Sunday will be an all together different day where the performances over the one month period will have very little significance.
Hockey India League