The first two minutes of Saturday's Hockey India League encounter between Mumbai Magicians and Jaypee Punjab Warriors at the MHA-Mahindra Stadium here aptly summed up the home team's pathetic form in the tournament.
Punjab Warriors celebrate a goal against Mumbai Magicians in their Hockey India League match on Saturday. Pic/Shadab Khan
Punjab's SV Sunil made a fine solo run down the right flank only to be deliberately blocked by Mumbai defender Gurjinder Singh. The defender deserved a yellow card for his shove, but Czech umpire Jakub Mejzlik awarded a free hit instead.
Punjab skipper Jamie Dwyer quickly relayed the ball to Sunil on the top of the Mumbai striking circle and the India forward almost nonchalantly strode down the centre towards goal with hardly any challenge offered by the Mumbai defence and calmly pushed in for 1-0.
Stunned by the early goal, the hosts never recovered and in fact only further slipped into oblivion as Punjab's Dharamvir Singh, Affan Yousuf and Sandeep Singh added a goal each to complete the rout. VS Vinaya scored the lone goal for the hosts.
Mumbai's casual defence has been one of the biggest reasons for their five defeats from six matches this season, Saturday's 1-4 defeat to Punjab included. Mumbai's forwardline, except for skipper Aussie Glenn Turner, has been more or less clueless too. Sample this: Mumbai Magicians have played 18 HIL matches in all (12 last season and six so far this season) wherein they've lost 16, won one last year and drawn one this year.
Needless to say, Saturday's defeat quashed all hope, if at all there was any, of Mumbai qualifying for the HIL semi-finals this year too. Coach MK Kaushik has some serious re-strategising to do and there's hardly any time given his boys host defending champions Ranchi Rhinos on Sunday night.
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