New Delhi: Delhi Waveriders tasted their first victory as they thrashed Uttar Pradesh Wizards 8-1, riding on twin strikes from Mandeep Singh, in the fifth edition of the Hockey India league (HIL) at the Shivaji Stadium here on Wednesday.
In the 8-1 victory, Mandeep set the momentum of the game by scoring two field goals in the fourth minute and then in 29th minute. Parvinder Singh (56th minute) and Austin Smith (58th minute) also founded the back of the net to hand their team a comfortable victory.
For the visitors, skipper V.R. Raghunath, who was the lone scorer, tried to settle down the things as he scored in the 14th minute to reduce the gap. Though the scoreline suggests a different story, the match was much more competitive. Both bottom-placed teams started the match on a positive note by sticking to the game plan. Delhi players, who were struggling to find the rhythm in the league started pressing the defence of their opponent.
Soon, they were rewarded for their efforts as Mandeep Singh scored a solo goal in the fourth minute of the game. After an excellent pass from the midfield, Mandeep dribbled nearly 30 yards before slamming a back-hander from the top of the circle through the legs of the custodian P.R. Sreejesh.
After conceding the goal, Uttar Pradesh started counter-attacking. They also got one chance to equalise when Ramandeep Singh was given a pass inside the circle, but he failed to convert it. But, over one minute to go in the second quarter, skipper and drag-flicker Raghunath stood up to his reputation to reduce the goal difference for his team to one.
In the second quarter, the home team did well in maintaining the ball possession. But the Raghunath led team started to put pressure on Delhi by increasing the pace of the game. As a result, UP Wizards were awarded with another penalty corner in 24th minute, which they again failed to utilise it.
Delhi then played an inspired game. Mandeep scored again in the 29th minute following a goal-melee to put the hosts in a commanding position. After a Manuel Brunet's reverse hit saved by Sreejesh, Mandeep snatched the ball from the goalkeeper before poking it home to give his team a crucial lead.
The third quarter witnessed the visitors doing well in containing the hosts from making too many circle penetrations. But just like the first half they failed to convert the chances.
The fourth and final quarter saw some nail-biting moments with both teams coming up with an improvised game. But it was Delhi, which proved superior as with over three minute for the final hooter, Parvinder and Smith scored the brilliant field goals to clinch the match.