HIL: Another unhappy ending for Mumbai Magicians

For the second time this season in the HIL, Magicians lose 3-5 after taking the lead

There are some stark similarities between the Hockey India League’s Mumbai Magicians and the Indian hockey team. For one, they begin a match perfectly, dominate at the start and even score goals early. But eventually they seem to tire and concede goals towards the end and end up losers. It happened last year, when they lost 11 out of their 12 HIL matches, and it’s happening this year too.

Mumbai Magicians celebrate Gurjinder Singh’s goal against UP Wizards at the MHA-Mahindra Stadium yesterday. Pic/Suresh KK

Mumbai lost their opening HIL tie 3-5 to Punjab Warriors on Sunday despite leading 2-1 and 3-2 in the initial stages of the encounter. Yesterday at the MHA-Mahindra Stadium, the Mumbai side, led by Australian Glenn Turner, were up 2-0 in the first half but eventually ended up 3-5 losers to Uttar Pradesh Wizards. This is not to take away any sheen off UP skipper and star drag-flicker V Raghunath’s hat-trick however.

Drag-flicker Gurjinder Singh opened the scoring for Mumbai with a neat drag-flick off a penalty corner in the 12th minute. Skipper Turner doubled the lead off an indirectly executed penalty corner six minutes later. In between, UP were awarded a stroke as the ball struck defender VS Vinaya’s foot off a penalty corner, but Mumbai ’keeper David Harte neatly warded off Luke Doerner’s attempt. Raghunath scored the first of his troika in the 28th minute.

Just after half-time, he restored parity (41st min) and the Mumbai players’ shoulders seemed to droop. UP forward Siddharth Shanker scored a neat field goal 11 minutes later to make it 3-2, and four minutes after that Raghunath completed his hat-trick of drag-flicks. Mumbai’s Sarvanjit Singh pulled one back off an indirect penalty corner (57th minute), but a deflection by UP’s SK Uthappa in the 59th minute ensured Mumbai lost their second HIL 2014 tie by the same scoreline as the first — 3-5.

Pillay ‘plays’ against Mumbai, for a change
Hockey legend Dhanraj Pillay was born in Pune but it won’t be wrong to say that he honed his skills at the MHA-Mahindra Stadium. So it was rather odd to see Pillay sit in the opposition dug-out for yesterday’s Mumbai Magicians vs UP Wizards Hockey India League encounter. Pillay, technical director of the UP team, admitted it was odd, but it’s for the love of the game nevertheless. “I’ve played all my hockey in Mumbai and for Mumbai, so obviously this is a bit odd, but it’s all about being professional. At the end of the day, the Mumbai team here didn’t avail of my expertise and UP did so I’m with them,” Pillay told MiD DAY. Pillay was with UP last year too.

Dhanraj Pillay at the MHA-Mahindra Stadium yesterday. Pic/Suresh KK

Commentating tougher than playing: Dad
Olympian Sameer Dad has scored many a goal for India and continues to do so for his employers Air India. However, the stylish 34-year-old center-forward has swapped his stick for the microphone as he makes his debut as a commentator for the ongoing HIL. So, what’s it like being on the other side of the field? “It’s tough being a commentator, playing was a lot easier. You can make a mistake on the hockey field, but you can’t make a mistake on air,” Dad, who has been hired by host broadcaster Star Sports for its Hindi network, told MiD DAY. “Beside it’s difficult to criticise the players when they err because most of them are my friends and have played with me. But their mistakes can’t be ignored either, as it’s all on air and the world is watching,” added the Bhopal player.

Sameer Dad

Cold response from Mumbai fans
The noise and energy that emanates from the stands was missing yesterday as Mumbai hosted its first HIL 2014 encounter. The crowd turn-out was not too impressive and even those who attended were rather silent spectators. And this despite there being a host of freebies and prizes on offer. “We have distributed over 100 free tickets to young hockey enthusiasts for this match. Besides, there will be a lucky draw wherein one lucky spectator from the general stand will be awarded a motorbike. The crowd turnout may not be very encouraging this time as it’s only the first game and secondly, it’s a weekday. There will be a bigger crowd as the tournament progresses,” assured MHA secretary Ram Singh Rathore. — ASHWIN FERRO

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