Delhi, Ranchi lock horns at top of the HIL table
Ranchi, with 27 points, are close at the heels of table-toppers Delhi who are unbeaten so far with 32 points.
New Delhi: Ranchi Rhinos are clearly the most potent threat to the Hockey India League title aspirations of Delhi Waveriders and they are in Delhi to ram into the hosts and put their unbeaten run to bed.
Delhi and Ranchi were locked at 27 points until Tuesday night, when Delhi humbled Punjab 3-0 here at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium to go clear on top with 32 points. The hosts will like to do the same to Ranchi on Wednesday but need to a bit more wary of the second best team of the inaugural season.
Under the inspirations leadership of Germany's Moritz Fuerste, Ranchi - who are virtually through to the semi-finals along with Delhi - have won five and lost two so far, and they will be licking their lips to avenge their home loss to Sardar Singh's men. Ranchi lost that nine-goal humdinger a week back and will surely have plans in place to overturn that defeat.
Fuerste will return to re-ignite Ranchi after a well-deserved rest in the last game against Uttar Pradesh Wizards, and he will have high hopes from his midfield to take a cue from rival skipper Sardar's heroics in the tournament. Mandeep Singh has also rose to the occasion for Ranchi as an opportunistic striker, adding six goals to his kitty so far, and could be the man to watch out for on Wednesday.
Ranchi's coach Gregg Clark hopes to field a full-strength unit after some of his players reported sick in the last two games. "The team has been performing well. In the past two games, some of our players were unwell but we hope to come in with the full squad for tomorrow's game. Delhi is definitely a difficult team to play against and are the table leaders, but we hope to play them with a combination of attack and defence and do well."
Delhi, however, have little to worry with most things working out to coach AK Bansal's liking. Their forward line looks the best moving forward and almost all strikers have put one or more in the rival net. If anything, Delhi's defence has to be a bit more proactive as it has at times allowed opponents a look-in just when they seemed to be running away with the game.