New Delhi, Feb 12: Hockey India League (HIL) table-toppers Delhi Waveriders made sure they lead the standings as they beat defending champions Ranchi Rhinos 1-0 at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium here Wednesday.
Akashdeep Singh’s 65th minute goal helped the hosts bag five points in the repeat of last edition’s final, extending their lead to 34 points with six wins from nine matches.
Meanwhile, the Rhinos are third with 24 points with the Jaypee Punjab Warriors dividing the two with 25.
The match started on a high intensity with both teams attacking each other at every opportunity they got. Custodians of both the teams – Nicolas Jacobi (Waveriders) and Francisco Cortes (Rhinos) – were in their elements and stopped whatever came their way.
The second quarter saw the visitors earning the first penalty corner of the match at the stroke of halftime but the Rhinos tried too many variations and messed up their chance to go up on the board.
The Rhinos were full of aggression and attacked immediately after halftime with a brilliant chance when veteran Dutchman Floris Evers almost scored for the Rhinos.
Waveriders skipper and man of the match Sardar Singh was also been in prime form, one of the reasons why the Waveriders have been so dominant this season.
Sardar performed his role of a playmaker in brilliant fashion, creating several chances but he did not get enough support as the Delhi forwards failed to break the Ranchi defence.
In the 49th and 50th minutes, the Rhinos earned two back to back penalty corners but were successfully stopped by the hosts on both occasions to the delight the sizeable home crowd.
The Waveriders earned their first penalty corner in the next few moments but Cortes did his job well once again to keep out the hosts.
But five minutes from the finish Akashdeep’s field goal made all the difference as he not only put his team on the board but consolidated the Waveriders’ position in the league.
In the last minute, the visitors were successful in earning another penalty corner but the Waveriders were fruitful in keeping them out to bag full points.
The Rhinos next play debutants Kalinga Lancers Feb 14 at Bhubaneswar while the Waveriders take on the Dabur Mumbai Magicians in Mumbai Feb 15.
Result: Delhi Waveriders beat Ranchi Rhinos 1-0.