Punjab look to topple unbeaten leaders Delhi
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Ever-improving Punjab Warriors will hope to stop Delhi Waveriders' unbeaten run when they clash in a Hockey India League match at the Major Dhyan Chand Stadium on Tuesday.
Led by the inspirational Sardar Singh, Delhi are going through a dream run in the inaugural HIL, having won five out of their six games, and sit atop the table with 27 points, five clear of second-placed Ranchi Rhinos (22).
Their opponents Punjab have returned to winning ways after a difficult start, and they will hope to continue in the same breath. Punjab played aggressively to beat Mumbai Magicians and Uttar Pradesh Wizards in their last two games. Beating Delhi will propel them to second on the table. With 20 points in their kitty, Punjab are presently placed third.
With the likes of Malak Singh, SV Sunil and skipper Jamie Dwyer showing good form, the Warriors' management will be reasonably confident. Ignace Tirkey has been the key man in their backline.
But Delhi will start favourites, with their strikers in rich form with Oscar Deecke and Lloyd Norris Jones showing promise upfront. Sardar has been their main link-man. But their backline remains a major worry, especially during penalty corners. Poor penalty corner conversion rate also remains a prime concern for Delhi coach A K Bansal.
The game will also be a battle of reputation between the world's two best goalkeepers in Germany's Nicolas Jacobi of the Waveriders and the Warriors' Dutchman Jaap Stockmann.
2.5 crore for winners
The HIL have announced that the first winners of the inaugural edition will win Rs 2.5 crore as prize money. The runners-up will take home Rs 1.25 crore while the third-placed team will be richer by Rs 75 lakh, a Hockey India (HI) statement said.