As the third season of the Hero Hockey India League enters its final week, the top 4 teams that will be playing the semi finals have been determined. Uttar Pradesh Wizards, Ranchi Rays, Punjab Warriors and Delhi Waveriders will battle it out for a place in the big final.
Hero Hockey India League table: End of the road for Kalinga, Mumbai
With 30 points from 9 games, the Uttar Pradesh Wizards and the Ranchi Rays are tied at the top. But a superior goal difference (8) has helped the Wizards retain their first position on the Hero Hockey India League table. Not far behind, Punjab Warriors have 29 points from 8 games and have a very good chance to finish the league stage at the top. Defending champs Delhi Waveriders stay at the fourth position with 23 points from 9 games.
New-look Dabang Mumbai (14 pts from 9 games) failed to make an impact in this edition of the Hero Hockey India League as they managed to win just one game out of nine. They are sure to wind up the league at the bottom spot but will look to end their campaign with a victory in their last league game. Dabang Mumbai will face Punjab Warriors and the Mumbaikars could well spoil the party for Punjab if they beat them in Mohali. A defeat for Punjab might deny them a first-place finish on the league table.
Kalinga Lancers too failed to cater to their fans’ expectations as the string of consecutive losses hurt them badly. After a big win in the very first game of the tournament, Kalinga Lancers lost 6 games in a row. They then saw a painful 2-2 draw against Delhi Waveriders which nullified their chances of making it to the semi-finals. However, Kalinga ended their season 3 journey on a high as they defeated both Dabang Mumbai and Delhi Waveriders with a score of 2-1. They finished the league with 21 points from 10 games.
Contenders for player of the tournament
Like the previous editions of the Hockey India League, this edition too has discovered some exciting new talent on the turf. The international players too played world-class hockey and orchestrated many wins during the league. Here are a few players who have been standout performers for their teams:
1. Ashley Jackson (Ranchi Rays)
Ranchi Rays captain Ashley Jackson has 8 goals from 9 matches. He has led his side extremely well and has stood up to the challenge on many occasions. His penalty corner conversion rate is the best in the league and all his 8 goals have come from penalty corners.
2. Akashdeep Singh (Delhi Waveriders)
Young Indian forward Akashdeep Singh has yet again played an important role in Delhi Waveriders’ semi-final qualification. With a great set of skills and unmatchable pace, he has scored 4 field goals for the Waveriders and he will continue to threaten the opposition in the Hockey India League.
3. Sandeep Singh (Punjab Warriors)
Sandeep Singh has been the bridge between the Punjab Warriors’ midfield and forward line. A defender according to formation, he has 8 goals and an assist in 8 games and continues to add more goals to his Hockey India League career. He also has 22 tackles to his name which is a very good number at the HIL.
4. VR Raghunath (Uttar Pradesh Wizards)
9 matches, 5 goals, 1 assist, 31 tackles – VR Raghunath has had an appreciable Hockey India League season and he too has led the Uttar Pradesh Wizards from the front and to the top of the Hero Hockey India League table. He has supported his strikers well and has also taken care of the defense unit.
Hero Hockey India League – Schedule for remaining matches:
17th February 7:00 pm- Punjab Warriors vs Ranchi Rays
18th February 7:00 pm- Delhi Waveriders vs Uttar Pradesh Wizards
19th February 7:00 pm- Punjab Warriors vs Dabang Mumbai
21st February 4:30 pm- Semi-final 1
21st February 7:00 pm- Semi-final 2
22nd February 4:30 pm- Third Place Playoff
22nd February 7:00 pm- Final