Comets in ‘seventh heaven’, Wizards in trouble
- PC expert Gurjinder Singh strikes with seven minutes remaining for Comets
- Delhi Wizards’ Shakeel Abassi rues ‘missed chances’
With seven minutes remaining the Delhi Wizards-Chandigarh Comets match seemed to be heading for a goalless draw – the first of its kind in the Bridgestone World Series Hockey, but the action-packed tournament lived up to its reputation as the tie came alive suddenly in the 63rd minute. One of the finds of the tournament, penalty-corner expert Gurjinder Singh dragged a stunning flick into the net to give the Comets 1-0 win over the hosts.
On the other hand, Delhi Wizards flattered to deceive yet again as they must be ruing the missed chances in this crucial tie here at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium on Wednesday. Even as the match was veering towards a draw, Gurjinder stuck the all-important goal in the 63rd minute off the team’s third and last penalty corner, even as Rajpal Singh came close to equalize a minute later only to see young talent Harjot Singh taking the shot head on to block.
Some of the Comets fans, who had traveled from Chandigarh to support their team, stood exulting and relieved with their team’s hard-fought win, which was probably symbolic of the fact that each match from now onwards will count in the tournament.
However, their hotly-contested match, despite generating much heat, did not result in goals. Comets dominated the attack, but their forwards Ramandeep Singh, Ranjodh Singh and Sukhwinder Singh failed upfront, leaving coach Harendra Singh to make frequent substitutions. The trio let go a couple of deadly crosses from the nippy winger Sher Singh, a gem of a centre from Ajitesh Rai, and then a defence splitting feed by Jiwa Mahon.
The huge crowd support did not help the home side either when it earned its only penalty corner early in the match. Vikramjeet Singh firmly struck, aiming at the middle of the cage, but Comets goalkeeper Harjot Singh spotted the flight early on, and nonchalantly palmed it away.
Comets’ lone penalty corner in the first session failed to beat goalie Kamaldeep Singh. Otherwise precise, the Chandigarh team failed to capitalize the other penalty corner in the 43rd minute due to a poor stop, but thankfully Gurjinder Singh and Mathews Phillips sprinted back to the their citadel to block the counter attack launched by the deadly duo of Shakeel Abbasi and Rajpal Singh.
Comets overhauled their strategy in the fourth quarter to break the goal jinx. They came out with a ‘diamond’ set piece on the rival’s 25-yard area early in this quarter, intercepting a weak clearance by Jaswinder Singh. Comets’ previous match hero Lalit Upadhyay lunged forward to deflect the last sortie of the brilliantly executed set piece but Kamaldeep Singh, who got injured in the process, would still not budge. Today was the goalkeepers’ day had Gurjinder’s lone goal not turned the match on its head in the dying minutes.
Schedule for March 15:
Pune Strykers vs Chennai Cheetahs at Pune, 7pm; Delhi Wizards vs Bhopal Badshahs at Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium; 9pm. Live on Neo Sports and Neo Cricket.