Dabang MumbaiAfter losing four games on trot in 2016 CIL Hockey India League, Dabang Mumbai reversed the trend in style. In match no.3 of the third HIL week, Mumbai played on their home turf on February 3 and defeated table-toppers and defending champions Ranchi Rays 7-5. Man-of-the-match and Mumbai captain Matthew Swann was instrumental in two crucial field goals, one of which he scored himself and set up Nilakanta Sharma for another. In the other two matches of third week, UP Wizards defeated Delhi Waveriders 6-4 on February 1 and on February 2, Delhi lost another home game to Jaypee Warriors Punjab. For Wizards, Monday’s victory came after three consecutive losses and as for Delhi; they played on their home ground for the first time on Monday and Tuesday and lost both home games.

Wednesday’s league game between Dabang Mumbai and Ranchi Rays remained engrossing from start to finish. The loss in all previous matches probably weighed on Mumbai’s mind and they began the first quarter with an offensive. Mumbai had better ball possession and in 11th minute, they earned the first penalty corner of the match. 7 minutes after Ram Diwakar converted for Mumbai, Ranchi Rays also got a penalty corner and scores came level at 1-1. Three minutes later Mumbai struck a field goal, when captain Matthew Swann entered the D and beat Ranchi goalkeeper. The teams went to halftime with Mumbai leading 3-1. When third quarter began, Mumbai forward Affan Yousuf was red-carded and they played with 10 men. Ranchi capitalized on the opportunity and drew the scores level at 3-3, when Sarvanjit came up with a field goal in 38th minute. In the 41st minute, Ranchi went past Mumbai from Ashley Jackson’s penalty corner conversion. However, the lead changed again, when Swann set up Nilakanta Sharma, who successfully scored to bring the score 5-4 in Mumbai’s favor. In the next 6 minutes, Mumbai scored another field goal, when Florian Fuchs was fed a nice ball by Roshan Minz and the German didn’t miss. Mumbai now led 7-4 as minutes ticked away. Towards the end, Ranchi launched an offensive and earned penalty corner that Sandeep Singh converted. However, nothing happened in remaining time as Mumbai scored their first league victory at 7-5. Mumbai’s next match will be at Lucknow on February 6 against UP Wizards while Ranchi will play Kalinga Lancers on February 8 at Bhubaneswar.

On February 1, Uttar Pradesh Wizards defeated Delhi Wave-riders 6-4 at Delhi. It was the first home game for Wave-riders but they couldn’t capitalize on the home advantage. UP Wizards, on the other hand, had suffered three consecutive losses and came good against Delhi. In first quarter, tempo of the match remained slow as both teams played defensively. After the goalless first quarter, Wizards began to attack in second quarter and succeeded in eliciting a penalty corner in 19th minute. VR Raghunath was not one to error and Wizards took a 1-0 lead.  Despite Delhi’s best efforts they couldn’t get any goals in second quarter. After third quarter also ended goalless, the viewers were witness to a scintillating game of hockey in the last 15 minutes. 9 goals were scored as the tempo of the match changed completely. First of these 9 goals came in 54th minute, when Wizards’ Chinglensana Singh scored from a field goal and his team’s lead became 3-0. Wizards got another field goal immediately and jumped to a 5-0 lead with 5 minutes remaining in the match. Delhi responded with a field goal as well to reduce the lead to 5-2. This goal followed a heated exchange between Wizards’ goalkeeper PR Sreejesh and Delhi’s Tristan White, who earned a red-card. With time running away, Wizards earned another penalty corner in 58th minute Gonzalo Peillat converted it for a 6-2 lead for Wizards. Delhi pulled back two goals immediately, when Delhi’s Talvinder Singh went for a counter attack and scored a field goal. But the buzzer went off soon and UP Wizards recorded a 6-4 win over the hosts.

Delhi Wave-riders got second time unlucky next day, when they hosted Jaypee Punjab Warriors for a back-to-back home game and lost 2-5. Delhi had beaten Punjab in the away game at Chandigarh but Punjab avenged the defeat. The Wave-riders suffered a reversal in the 10th minute, when Warriors’ Mark Gleghorne converted a penalty corner for a 1-0 lead. Another penalty corner went Punjab’s way in the 11th minute and this time it was Mark Knowles, who converted it. In second quarter, Punjab’s led 3-0, when Christopher Ciriello scored from the third penalty corner in 22nd minute. Delhi went in the attacking mode in third quarter and reduced the deficit by one goal scored from a penalty corner by Rupinder Pal Singh. However, Warriors retaliated strongly and scored a field goal in 37th minute, when Jake Whetton shot through to take his team’s lead to 5-1. With 5 minutes left, Delhi got a consolation goal, when Rupinder Pal Singh converted for second time but the match ended soon and Jaypee Punjab Warriors ran away with a 5-2 win to disappoint the home fans.

After 16 league matches, Delhi Wave-riders are still at third place in points’ table behind Jaypee Punjab Warriors and despite their loss to Dabang Mumbai on Wednesday, Ranchi Rays are still the table toppers.