Jalandhar, Jan 23: Dabur Mumbai Magicians face a do-or-die battle when they take on Jaypee Punjab Warriors in their fifth encounter of the Hockey India League (HIL) at the Surjit Singh stadium here Thursday.
The Ric Charlesworth-coached side has failed to win any of their league encounters so far and need inspiration to turn their fortunes around in the tournament’s inaugural edition.
Other teams have exploited their defensive frailties in the later stages of the match. In their last encounter against Delhi Waveriders, the Magicians took a 4-3 lead only to go down 4-6 with their defence completely at a loss once the opposition stepped up the pace of their attack.
The only area where the Magicians can take solace from is the return to form of penalty corner specialist Sandeep Singh. The former India skipper was in his element against the Waveriders and scored a hat-trick to partially redeem him after having missed a penalty stroke against the same opponent in their opening match of the tournament.
The Magicians had suffered a similar reversal when the Punjab Warriors came visiting to their home turf. The hosts’ failure to maintain their composure at the back in the last quarter had help the visitors resurrect their HIL campaign with their first victory in the tournament after three straight losses.
On the other hand, the Warriors were held to a draw in their last encounter against Uttar Pradesh Wizards and they would need to regain their scoring touch in order to keep the Magicians at bay.
All in all, one can expect a high tempo encounter with both teams needing a victory to keep their semi-final hopes alive.