Dabang Mumbai will aim to avoid a fifth consecutive loss in the Coal India Hockey India League (HIL) when they take on table toppers Ranchi Rays at the Mahindra Hockey Stadium here on Wednesday.
With four losses on the trot from as many games in the tournament, Mumbai are placed at the bottom of the table with just four points while defending champions Ranchi are in sublime form, having won four out of five matches and pocketed 21 points so far.
While Mumbai will search for their first victory of the season, Ranchi will aim to hold on to their current form and extend their lead at the top of the standings.
The last two matches which Mumbai lost at home were all close encounters with their opponents clinching victories via field goals in the dying minutes of the game. Head coach Jay Stacy remained positive that a win will come sometime soon.
“All the four games were close matches. The result could have gone either way. I am positive and I am sure victory is not too far away from us,” Stacy said after their 4-6 loss to Kalinga Lancers on Sunday.
Mumbai skipper, Australia international Matthew Swann, who has been dictating the flow of the game, will be the key once again on Wednesday. The team will rely on him to help them score their first win to keep their semi-final hopes alive.
Besides Swann, German star Florian Fuchs will be someone to watch out for, considering his pace and ability to score at crucial junctures of the game.
On the other hand, Ranchi, keeping in mind their form of late and the star players in the squad, will have to just keep things simple and get the work done on Wednesday.
The visitors will depend on Ashley Jackson, Britain forward Barry Middleton, Fergus Kavanagh, Sandeep Singh, Manpreet Singh, Birendra Lakra and Kothajit Singh, Tyler Lovell and Trent Mitton.
The team has a combination of Australians who can play different roles at the same time like midfielder/forward Flynn Ogilvie and youngsters Daniel Beale and Mitton who can play a similar role.
Tim Deavin will add the necessary experience in the form of defender/midfielder. The goal will be guarded by Australian Tyler Lovell, who played a crucial role in Rays' title win last year.