Hockey India League: The Good- Ranchi Rays, UP Wizards And Punjab Warriors
In terms of performances put up, there is absolutely no doubt that the Punjab Warriors and the Ranchi Rays were the best sides in the Hockey India league. Following their 6-3 loss to the Kalinga Lancers in the opening fixture, Harendra Singh and his Ranchi Rays put up a magnificent and complete performance to win the competition. Ashley Jackson was pivotal in the win as Trent Mitton, Barry Middleton, Tyler Lovell and Mandeep Singh supported their captain to win their first HIL.
Their opponents in the final and runners up last season, the Punjab Warriors too put up a brilliant performance to finish on the top of the table in the league stages. Ace drag-flicker Sandeep Singh played a major role as he finished at second place on the goalscorer’s list. Jamie Dwyer and Jake Whetton too came to the fore. Jaap Stockmann was the pick of the goal keepers with an outstanding performance.
Roelant Oltmans failed to realize his dream of winning the HIL as his UP Wizards finished fourth in the final table. Despite putting up decent performances in the league stages, the UP Wizards lost a marathon penalty shootout against the Ranchi Rays. In the third place match an unlucky 2-1 loss to the Delhi Waveriders resulted in Roelant Oltmans’ side finishing the 2015 edition of the HIL at a disappointing fourth position.
The Bad- Delhi Waveriders And Kalinga Lancers
The 2014 Hockey India League champions put an end to their 2015 campaign with a 2-1 win over the UP Wizards. The significance of the win was that the Delhi Waveriders finished in third position in the final standings. The highlight as far as Cedric D’Souza will be concerned will perhaps be the form of Rupinder Pal Singh and Sardar Singh. Rupinder failed to convert 13 penalty corners and Sardara Singh also showed the effects of a long and draining season. The Waveriders will be hoping to make amends the following season.
Despite a solid start to the season, the Kalinga Lancers faded away as the competition went into its latter stages. The side that finished in the penultimate position can take away a few positives. The performances put in by the younger players especially will be a boost for battered coach Jude Felix Sebastian.
The Ugly- Dabang Mumbai
Mentioning that Dabang Mumbai had a bad season is a mere understatement. An ugly spat with the match officials by Valentin Altenberg summed up the season for Mumbai. Tim Boon, the most expensive player to be auctioned, could not give the franchise owners value for their money. However, amid a series of miserable performances, there were indeed a few silver linings. Harmanpreet Singh showed why he is India’s next big thing courtesy his drag-flicking ability and calmness. Santa Singh and Glenn Turner too put in a strong showing, but that was not enough for Dabang Mumbai as they finished at the bottom of the HIL.