Yuvraj Walmiki scored the all-important winner to guide Delhi Waveriders to the summit clash of the second edition of the Hero Hockey India League in the floodlit Astroturf Hockey Stadium in Ranchi on Saturday. Walmiki scored a field goal in the 15th minute in front a packed 6,000 capacity stadium to dash Uttar Pradesh Wizards' title hopes.
It was a keenly-contested fight between last year's runners-up Waveriders and the Wizards. While the Waveriders had the better share of ball possession in the first half, the UP side dominated the proceedings in the second half. The only difference between the two sides in the evenly-matched contest was that the Waveriders made use of an early chance, whereas the Wizards were guilty of wasting numerous goal-scoring opportunities that came their way.
Wizards skipper V R Raghunath had a bad day in the office as he failed to convert any of the three penalty corners his side earned in the match. The Waveriders got the first real scoring opportunity in the 12th minute but wasted it as Rupinderpal Singh failed to capitalise on his side's first penalty corner. The Delhi outfit, however, took the lead soon through a field strike from Walimiki.
An opportunist Walimiki found himself at the right place at the right time to deflect in from close range a Justin Reid-Ross' pass. Wizards got a chance to draw level in the second quarter when they earned their first penalty corner but skipper Raghunath's flick went wide after getting a deflection from the sticks of an onrushing Rupinder.
The Uttar Pradesh side needed a goal in the second half to keep their hopes alive and expectedly went for the offensive from the start. Their efforts resulted in two penalty corners in the third quarter but as has been the story for the Wizards in the match, Raghunath wasted both the opportunities. Wizards kept up the pressure on the Waveriders in search of the equaliser with some bright moves in the final quarter but they failed to convert them into goals.
Waveriders, on the other hand, created a few chances on the counter-attack but their forward-line faltered in the finishing.