HIL 2016: Punjab crush Delhi to enter third successive final
Image Courtesy: © HIL Media
Rookie forward Armaan Qureshi and Aussie Simon Orchard helped Punjab Warriors enter their third successive final in the history of the Hockey India League after defeating Delhi Waveriders 3-1 in the first semi-final at Ranchi today. Rupinder Pal Singh scored the only goal for Delhi through a drag-flick.
With 29 points in the league stage, two-time finalists Punjab Warriors had finished second in the table to qualify for the semi-final, while 2014 Champions Delhi Waveriders crushed Kalinga Lancers 6-0 to storm into the last four. Having won one game each in the league stage, which produced a total of 16 goals, the first semi-final at Ranchi was predicted to throw up a lot of goals.
The pre-match predictions of a goal-fest came true within the first six minutes with drag-flicker Rupinder Pal Singh scoring from a penalty corner. A run down the right and a cutback to Varun Kumar’s legs from Yuvraj Walmiki earned Delhi the first penalty corner of the match. Rupinder Pal continued his goal run with a powerful flick, which found a way into the goal through Australian goalkeeper Tristan Clemons’s legs, to score Delhi’s first of the match and his 12th of the campaign.
Delhi used the speed of Walmiki and Talwinder to get behind the Punjab defence countering Punjab’s superior possession and won another penalty corner in the first quarter with Talwinder Singh the provider this time. A poor trapping from the push denied Rupinder his second shot at Clemons, but Delhi ended the quarter
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But it all changed within minutes into the second quarter with Armaan Qureshi scoring a field goal to put Punjab in the lead. Mark Knowles fired in a free hit into Armaan Qureshi in the shooting circle, and the youngster hammered home the ball with a reverse shot to put his team ahead. The goal gave Punjab more domination in the middle with Delhi having to play a different game to come back into the match.
Delhi made it to the semi-finals on the back of Rupinder Pal’s penalty corners and tried to find an opening in the next thirty minutes to give the defender a chance to show his skills with the drag-flick. But having already suffered the wrath of Rupinder’s stick in the first quarter, Punjab remained cautious about gifting Delhi any penalty corners and went into the last 15 minutes with a 2-1 lead.
Simon Orchard finished off Delhi’s hopes of entering their second final in the history of HIL in the 50th minute through a variation from a penalty corner to fire the ball past Devon Manchester in the Delhi goal to put his team into a 3-1 lead.
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