Tuesday witnessed two Hockey India League heavyweights up against each other as the Jaypee Punjab Warriors took on defending champions Ranchi Rays in Mohali. In a closely-fought encounter, the home side escaped with a narrow 2-0 win, thus avenging their defeat in the 2015 HIL final. Interestingly, this was the first win for the Punjab Warriors against the Ranchi Rays. Jake Whetton’s 2nd minute strike proved to be the match-decider.
Punjab Warriors take the lead through Jake Whetton:
Fielding a new-look side, the Punjab Warriors got off to an attacking start as the attacking trio of SV Sunil, Jake Whetton and youngster Aiyapa made inroads in the Ranchi defense. Ably supported by newly-signed captain Sardar Singh, the Punjab Warriors scored in the 2nd minute. Sardar was the provider and Jake Whetton made no mistake in getting the ball past Tyler Lovell, the Ranchi goalkeeper.
The Punjab Warriors dominated the remainder of the first half as they created several chances in their opponents’ half. On the other hand, the visitors resorted to playing a defensive game and were finding it difficult to dispossess the Punjab forwards. At half-time, the score remained 2-0.
The story in the second half was no different as no chances were being converted. The Ranchi Rays were in the thick of things and enjoyed higher ball possession but Ashley Jackson and Co. could not repeat last year’s heroics as the Punjab Warriors’ defensive unit proved too strong for them. The game came to a close with only one goal being scored and that was enough to give the Punjab Warriors 5 points. Sardar Singh’s team play again on Wednesday against the Delhi Waveriders, the Indian skipper’s former side.
Jaypee Punjab Warriors 2 (Jake Whetton 2′) beat Ranchi Rays 0.