High-flying Delhi Waveriders and second-placed Ranchi Rhinos scored a goal in each half to settle for a 2-2 draw in a hard-fought round robin match of the inaugural Hockey India League at the Major Dhyan Chand Stadium in New Delhi on Wednesday.
By virtue of the draw, both the teams pocketed two points apiece.
Unbeaten so far in the tournament, the Waveriders further consolidated their position at the top of the league standings with 34 points from eight games, while the Rhinos are closed behind at the second spot with 29 points from as many matches.
Justin Reid Ross (14th minute) and Floris Evers (61st) were the goal scorers for Ranchi. On the other hand, for Delhi, one goal came from the sticks of Yuvraj Valmiki (53rd) while the other was an own goal.
The match was a battle between the top two sides of the tournament and as expected, it was a cracker of a contest as both the Waveriders as well as the Rhinos were in no mood to give an inch to the other.
The Rhinos, who lost 4-5 to the Waveriders in the previous face-off between the two teams, dominated possession in most part of the first quarter and looked more bright and opportunistic than their fancied rivals.
The visitor's efforts bore fruit in the 14th minute when Reid Ross gave them the lead with a hard sweep shot from the top of the circle after being beautifully set up by a fine run from Ashley Jackson down the middle.
If it was all the Rhinos in the first quarter, the second quarter belonged entirely to the home team.
Stunned by the Ranchi's strike, Delhi went all out attacking in the second quarter and made numerous inroads into the rival citadel from one which the home team equalised via a self goal in the 20th minute.
Thereafter, the Waveriders enjoyed the lions' share of possession with the Rhinos threatening in between.
Delhi skipper Sardar Singh was disappointed with the result but said the encounter would serve as a learning experience for them ahead of the remaining round robin games.
"I feel we didn't play as well as we have played in the last 6-7 games. We have learnt a lot from this match. We got to know about our mistakes and the grey areas we need to improve," he said.
Delhi coach AK Bansal, however, said that he was not dissatisfied with the eventual outcome of the game and has already started strategising for the semifinals.
"Qualifying for the semis is not important as there is only five teams and four will qualify for the semifinals. What is important is where we stand after the league stage, so in this context our remaining league games are crucial," he said.
Ranchi Rhinos captain Moritz Furste felt his side should have won the match had they not wasted numerous scoring chances that came their way.
"I am not 100 per cent satisfied with the result. I though we were the better side. We created enough chances but we failed to utilize the chances," he observed.