Runners-up of inaugural edition, Delhi Waveriders played a 1-1 draw with Uttar Pradesh Wizards to split points and reached top position in points table of the second edition of the Hero Hockey India League (HHIL) at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium in New Delhi today.
It was a match of equals, throughout the entire 70 minutes both the teams struggled to get clear inroads into the rival citadel and had to be satisfied with two points apiece.
After a relatively quiet and actionless first quarter, Delhi Waveriders drew the first blood in the 23rd minute. An unmarked Yuvraj Walmiki pushed the ball home from close range after being set up by Simon Child’s fine work from the right flank and along the goal-line.
In the second quarter, there was hardly anything to differentiate between the two sides in terms of performance on the turf but Delhi Waveriders utilised the chance that came their way.
After surging ahead, Rupinderpal Singh conceded a penalty corner to Uttar Pradesh Wizards in the 33rd minute but Luke Doerner wasted the opportunity by holding on to the ball for too long.
The match continued on the same pace after the change of ends as both Delhi Waveriders and Uttar Pradesh Wizards struggled to create open scoring chances.
The visitors, though, had an opportunity to draw level when they earned their second penalty corner of the match in the 47th minute but Delhi Waveriders custodian Nicolas Jacobi brought up a fine save to deny Raghunath.
After a few chances, Uttar Pradesh Wizards finally managed to utilize one through S K Uthappa (62nd) who scored with a thumping reverse stick shot from top of the circle after latching on to a pass from Sander Baart.
Speaking to the media, Sardar Singh, Captain of Delhi Waveriders said, “it was little disappointing for us because we could have easily won. The man to man marking went wrong in the second half. Both the teams played with patience and put up a good show. The League is still open and all the matches are crucial. All teams are playing very well and it is difficult to say which one will qualify. We are out to give our best.”
V R Raghunath, Captain of Uttar Pradesh Wizards said “We always make a good comeback. Next time we want to take the lead. We have been very consistent with our performance. Team effort can be seen. It feels good to play against and with good players.”
Cedric D’Souza, coach of Delhi Waveriders said, “I am extremely unhappy with the draw and missed opportunities. The team at times lost possession of the ball. The team is in good form and is playing quite well. It is being trained with professionals and am sure we will have great going in next matches.”
Roelant Oltmans, Coach of Uttar Pradesh Wizards said, “I am not happy with the draw as always want to win. We failed in the first half as Delhi played better. S K Uthappa is the key player and one of the beset mid field players in the country and Dhanraj always brings a lot of positivity in the team.”
By virtue of the draw, Delhi Waveriders have jumped to the top of the leaderboard with 19 points from six outings, while Uttar Pradesh Wizards are lying third with 15 points from five games.
Delhi Waveriders will next host Dabur Mumbai Magicians at the same venue tomorrow before they travel to Lucknow to play Uttar Pradesh Wizards in the return leg match on Saturday.