Sardarís magic gives Mumbai no quarter

After presiding over yet another whipping of India back in October 2011, Australia coach Ric Charlesworth walked up to the rival team dug-out to have a quiet word with Sardar Singh. The Indian maestro's performance had stood out, as always, in an otherwise lacklustre performance by the team that had resulted in an 8-3 defeat. Charlesworth, it is believed, told Sardar to give up playing for India and join his world-class Australian team.

On Monday night his admiration for Sardar was once again apparent as he stood on the sidelines, this time watching his team getting decimated thanks to Sardar's brilliance. The 'offer' Charlesworth had made to Sardar back in 2011 was a comment made in jest. But wouldn't Charlesworth have loved having the 26-year-old on his side on a night when the Mumbai Magicians desperately needed some magic to revive his team's fortunes. His troubled team suffered another deflating defeat, their fourth in a row, at the Mahindra Stadium here after the Delhi Waveriders made a strong comeback in the final quarter to win 6-4.

It would be unfair on other brilliant performers like Gurwinder Singh Chandi and Oskar Deecke, to name a few, if Sardar's performance was singled out. But the playmaker was unflappable when the situation for Waveriders could so easily have gone out of hand.

Mumbai took the lead early and then conceded three goals to be 1-3 down at the halfway stage. They stormed their way back into the match with well-taken penalty corners to move up 4-3. But Delhi's superior passing skills and timely interceptions helped the visitors pump in three quick goals in the fourth quarter to prevail over Mumbai.

Delhi depended heavily on Sardar. He created space in a crowded midfield and engineered chances for his team virtually out of nowhere. He played on for the entire duration of the match, not getting substituted even once. "You always worry when a guy like Sardar is playing for the opposition. But you can win matches only if you stop players like him from having an impact in the match. Unfortunately, we couldn't do that today," Charlesworth said.

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