A clinical all-round display helped Delhi Waveriders thrash Uttar Pradesh Wizards 3-0 and maintain their supremacy in the Hero Hockey India League, at the Dhyan Chand Astroturf Stadium in Lucknow on Sunday.
Andres Mir Bel, Simon Child and Gurwinder Singh Chandi scored for the Waveriders to help them earn full five points. The win has taken the HIL's only unbeaten team's tally to 44 points.
Waveriders' win also kept Dabur Mumbai Magicians' hopes of making the cut for the semi-finals alive. The competition for the fourth spot in the semifinals will be between Wizards and Magicians.
With Waveriders winning by three goals, Wizards were denied even one point, although they lead Magicians by eight points with two games to play.
A K Bansal's boys made some good moves early on, and earned back-to-back penalty corners in the 10th minute. The second one saw them go 1-0 up, with Andres Mir Bel striking a low flick to the left corner, which easily beat the Wizards' goalkeeper.
Uthappa and De Nooijer combined well to make some interesting moves for the hosts, but were not allowed to take a shot at the goal by alert Waveriders' defence.
The hosts got a big blow in the 17th minute when Waveriders' increased their lead. Oscar Deecke's hard hit from the top of the Wizards' circle took a deflection from Simon Child and went into the goal, which put the home side's defence under more pressure.
Wizards kept coming at the visitors' defence regularly, but a strong midfield play, and an alert defence denied them clear opportunities.
Waveriders had a chance to increase their lead in the 28th-minute, when Child and Akashdeep combined well to beat the entire Wizards' defence. However, Akashdeep's deflected hit was saved well by Wizards' goalie Bazeley.
Visitors did eventually go 3-0 up a couple of minutes later though. Chandi struck a hard-hit from the top of the circle, and managed to beat the Bazeley who dived to his right to save the shot from entering the goal.
Going into third quarter with a three-goal cushion, Waveriders focused on keeping their shape, and denied Wizards any clear opportunities in that time period.
After a slightly dull third quarter, Wizards pressed hard at the visitors, and earned as many as three penalty corners in the final quarter.
The first drag flick was taken by Raghunath, but Jacobi got it right to deny the Wizards' skipper. Next two were taken by Hertzberger, both in different styles, and Jacobi was once again there to deny hosts any celebrations.
Uttar Pradesh Wizards captain VR Raghunath said that their team failed to materialise the opportunities.
"We did attack a lot but we could not change into goal while Delhi got less opportunity than us but they set the goal and whatever way they got they changed into goal, Delhi's goalkeeper played very well," Raghunath said at post-match press conference.
Delhi Waveriders' coach A K Bansal was happy as his team played with free mind and enjoyed the match.
"We had no planning for this game and I spoke to my team to play with free mind. We didn't want to lose the sustainable because we have been wining continuously and UP Wizards played very well but could not score any goal," the coach stated.