Ranchi Rays continue to shine in HIL
In week three of the Coal India Hockey India League, Ranchi Rays bounced back from a surprise mid-week defeat against Dabang Mumbai to claim a crucial victory against high-flying rivals Kalinga Lancers to tighten their grip at the top of the table.
On Wednesday (3 February), Dabang Mumbai took their first win of the competition with a 7-5 victory over the Rays, with Germany striker Florian Fuchs netting what proved to be the winning goal in the 48th minute.
It was a result that few expected and looked even more unlikely when Dabang were permanently reduced to ten players following Affan Yousuf’s 30th minute dismissal.
Ranchi’s defeat was certainly not ideal preparation for Monday’s top-of-the-table away clash against the Lancers, who went into the match level on points with the Rays but, like their opponents, had also suffered a loss in their most recent contest, going down 4-1 at home against Jaypee Punjab Warriors.
Ranchi fell behind in the ninth minute when Dharamvir Singh scored a field goal - which count double in this year’s HIL - to give the Lancers a 2-0 lead, before Rays’ captain Ashley Jackson continued his sparkling form with a 10th minute penalty corner to make the score 2-1.
The Rays had to wait until the fourth quarter before grabbing the winner, with Mohd Amir Khan firing home from open play to give Ranchi a 3-2 victory and open up a four point lead over the Lancers, who have played a game more, at the top of the table.
Third place in the Coal India Hockey India League table is currently occupied by Jaypee Punjab Warriors. As well as their victory against the Lancers, the Warriors also claimed a 5-2 triumph at Delhi Waveriders (fifth place) before falling to a 3-0 defeat on home turf against the fourth ranked Uttar Pradesh Wizards.
Dabang Mumbai are still at the bottom of the standings, but successive victories over Ranchi Rays and Uttar Pradesh Wizards (2-1) suggest that they have found form and will be looking for a rapid climb up the league table with the aim of securing an all-important top four finish and a subsequent place in the competition semi-finals.
The race to finish top of the scoring chart is currently being lead by Aussie goal-machine Glenn Turner (Kalinga Lancers) with 15. Turner, Jackson and Fuchs have each scored eight times in the competition, but Turner’s six field goals give him a clear advantage over his rivals.
To follow all the live action, visit the Coal India Hockey India League website by clicking here.