Rupinder Pal Singh converted two penalty corners as Delhi Wave Riders produced a convincing 5-4 win over Punjab Warriors. Despite the tight scoreline, Delhi dominated most of the game, as their aggressive tactics caught Punjab flat-footed.
Delhi started the first quarter strongly and were very aggressive in both attack and defence. Their endevour won them a penalty corner in the 4th minute, but Rupinder Pal Singh's shot was kept out by the outstretched arm of Tristan Clemons.
Eventually, Delhi Wave Riders took the deserved lead in the ninth minute. Mandeep Singh found Yuvraj Walmiki at the edge of the shooting circle, and the 26-year-old, who came off the bench just seconds before this event, produced a lovely turn and flick into the top corner of the net.
Punjab Warriors replied immediately though, with Matt Gohdes equalizing two minutes later. The move started from Punjab's right wing, with Satbir Singh driving into the circle. The forward picked out Gohdes in a lot of space at the far post. Devon Manchester, Delhi's goalie, saved Gohdes' first attempt on goal, but he could do nothing about his shot from the rebound.
Punjab were looking to use the same tactics they deployed against Ranchi Rays last night. They were pressing till the halfway line, allowing Delhi to have possession of the ball in their own half, and looking to nullify the central midfielders of Delhi by marking them out.
While the first quarter was played at a frantic pace, the second was a much more tight affair. Delhi still looked the better of the two teams though, with Walmiki causing the Punjab defence all sort of problems. The Indian forward won a penalty corner for the Delhi Waveriders in the eighth minute, which Rupinder Pal Singh placed into the top corner, to score his 14th penalty corner goal in the HIL and give Delhi a 3-2 lead.
In the 13th minute, Delhi extended their lead after a clever use of referral system by Simon Child. The New Zealand forward's shot from inside the circle hit the post and bounced back into play. The referral by Delhi showed that the ball hit the body of Punjab defender Varun Kumar, and a penalty corner was awarded.
Rupinder's low drive was kept out by Clemons, but Mark Pearson, who made the push at the start of the penalty corner, was at hand to turn in the rebound.
Despite being outplayed throughout the second quarter, Punjab received a lifeline in the 14th minute. Manchester did well to keep out a shot from Jacob Whetton, who scored the winning goal against Ranchi last night, but the rebound touched the body of a Delhi defender. From the resultant penalty corner, Christopher Ciriello's low drive was deflected into the back of the net off the onrushing Rupinder Pal Singh. The score was 4-3 at the end of the first half.
In the third quarter, Punjab went down to ten men when SV Sunil received a green card. Delhi Waveriders took advantage of their numerical superiority, and regained their two-goal lead. In the eighth minute, Benjamin Stanzl won a penalty corner for the visitors, after finding the leg of Mark Knowles inside the circle.
Rupinder Pal Singh stepped up and scored his second of the match, with a powerful strike which went between the legs of Clemons. The goalkeeper will have to take blame for letting that in.
Punjab pushed hard for an equalizer in the fourth quarter, and they eventually won a penalty corner in the 10th minute. Mark Gleghorne converted from the spot and took the score to 4-5. Delhi went down to 10-men with five minutes remaining on the clock, as Mandeep Singh received a green card. However, the visitors managed to hold on to the lead and get through with all three points from Mohali.