New Delhi: An ever-improving Jaypee Punjab Warriors would be hoping to put a stop to table toppers Delhi Waveriders' unbeaten run when they clash against each other in a round-robin match of the Hockey India League at the Major Dhyanchand Stadium here on Tuesday. Led by the inspirational Sardar Singh, the Waveriders are going through a dream run in the inaugural HIL, having won five out of their six games.
The Delhi side is atop the points table with 27 points, five clear of second-placed Ranchi Rhinos. But come on Monday, the Warriors would be hoping to end Waveriders' fairytale, and avenge upon their 1-2 defeat against the same opponent at the same venue in the opening match of the event. But to achieve that, the Warriors will have to play out of their skin against a side, which will be pumped up in front of a vociferous home crowd.
Of late, the Warriors returned to winning ways after a difficult start to their campaign, and they would be hoping to continue in the same breath. The Warriors played some aggressive hockey to beat Dabur Mumbai Magicians and Uttar Predesh Wizards in their last two games to move up the ladder.
A win on Monday will not only help the Warriors in settling scores against the Waveriders, it will also propel the Punjab team to the second spot in the points table. With 20 points in their kitty, the Warriors are presently placed third in the league standings behind the Rhinos (22). With the likes of Malak Singh, SV Sunil and skipper Jamie Dwyer showing good form, the Warriors' management would be reasonably confident going into Monday's match.
Veteran Ignace Tirkey has been the key man for the Warriors in the backline and the team will once again look upto him to deliver the goods. But all said and done, the high-flying Waveriders will start as overwhelming favourites in the match, having already beaten the Punjab outfit.
The Delhi strikers are in rich form with German Oscar Deecke and Lloyd Norris Jones showing promise upfront. Sardar, as usual, has been the link man for Delhi. However, the backline remains a major worry for the Waveriders as they have been guilty of conceding too many penalty corners. Poor penalty corner conversion rate also remains a prime concern for Delhi coach A K Bansal.
"The boys are playing well from the start and it is showing in our game. But there are few concerns. We are not being able to earn penalty corners and at the same time we are conceding quite a lot of PCs to our opponents," Bansal had said.
The Waveriders skipper Sardar also agreed with his coach.
"Our strong point is that we like to play attacking hockey. But of late we are committing a lot of mistakes," he added.
The game will also be a battle of reputation between the world's two best goalkeepers in Germany's Nicolas Jacobi of the Waveriders and the Warriors' Dutchman Jaap Stockmann.