Ace drag-flicker Sandeep Singh's hat-trick went in vain as table toppers Delhi Waveriders eked out a close 4-3 win over Mumbai Magicians in a thrilling round-robin match to continue their dream run in the ongoing Hockey India League in New Delhi on Sunday.
With this victory at the floodlit Major Dhyan Chand Stadium, the Waveriders have consolidated their position at the top of the league standings with 27 points from six games, five points ahead of second-placed Ranchi Rhinos.
On the other hand, the Magicians' dismal campaign in the inaugural HIL continued as the Mumbai side slumped to their sixth consecutive defeat in the five-team event.
In spite of this loss, the Magicians are theoretically still in the hunt for a semifinal berth but they need something magical in their remaining six games to make it to the knock-out stage.
For the Waveriders, South African Lloyd Norris Jones scored two goals (12th minute, 22nd), while Imran Khan (6th) and Rupinder Pal Singh (51st) found target once each. Sandeep (28th, 56th, 66th) scored all the three goals for the Magicians from penalty corners.
The Magicians started the match on a bright note and enjoyed a good share of possession in the early stages of the matches before losing the steam.
As expected, it was the in-form Waveriders who seized the initiative in the first quarter by pumping in two goals against an out-of-sorts Mumbai defence.
Imran gave Waveriders the lead in the sixth minute with a fierce shot after pouncing on a loose ball on top of the opposition circle.
The Magicians' woes were compounded six minutes later when Norris Jones doubled Delhi's lead after scoring from a goal-mouth melee.
The Mumbai outfit's defence was caught off guard once again in the second quarter when unmarked Norris Jones gently tapped the ball inside the goal in the 22nd minute after receiving a diagonal pass from Talwinder Singh from the right flank.