Delhi Waveriders received a grand welcome in Lucknow. The defending champions came to Uttar Pradesh Wizard’s home ground to kick-start their Hero Hockey India League 2015 campaign. Clear favorites to pick up the trophy, Delhi were impressive in a 2-2 draw with the UP Wizards.
Lucknow’s crowd got behind their team in large numbers. The home crowd helped Uttar Pradesh Waveriders resist the Delhi wave on a cool Friday afternoon. Even UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Singh Yadav was there to cheer the home side.
UP Wizards take a surprise lead in the second Quarter
It was expected that Delhi will lead the attack. However, there were many a surprise on the card. The Delhi Waveriders were forced to sit back in defense for most of the match. The UP Wizards were quick in building up attack. Delhi defender Hayward took Ramandeep Singh’s stick just as he lined his shot. The umpire was quick to award a penalty stroke. Hertzberger Jeroen was even quicker to put it in. The dutch put a low shot into the left side. Pieterse Rassie dived to the wrong side and the UP Wizards were a goal to the good.
Delhi Waveriders equalise Soon After
The lead did not last for long. Edwards Steven stunned UP players and crowd alike with a brilliant finish. Gurwinder Chandi directed the ball into the D. Edwards reached the ball and slapped it home. In the process Edwards lost his balance and fell but the ball had crossed the goalline by then. It was a peach of a shot. There was not much that UP’s keeper PR Sreejesh could do to avoid the goal as his view was blocked by one of his team’s defenders. That delayed his reaction time. By the time Sreejesh got a sight of the ball, it was already past him.
Delhi Waveriders take the lead in the Fourth Quarter
The Waveriders were very cagey all throughout the third quarter. UP attacked relentlessly but failed to convert the chances that came their way. The Wizards even received two penalty corners that they failed to stop the ball properly.
When the fourth quarter began, there was a change of roles. Delhi got on attack once again. Unlike UP, the Delhi Waveriders made it count. Talwinder Singh created a goal out of nothing. He just smacked the ball as hard as he could from the edge of the D and it went screaming into the goal. The defenders had once again blocked Sreejesh’s view, delaying his reaction time.
UP Wizards unwilling to give up at Home
However, if anyone wrote game over at that time, they were to be proven wrong soon. Ramandeep Singh, who had been having an amazing game, was at the right place at the right time. A shot from Nithin Thimmaiah was deflected by the keeper. It bounced in front of Ramandeep and he converted the chance into the equalizing goal.
It was honours even between the two teams and points were shared at the end of an absorbing match.