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HIL: Delhi back at home to face bottom-ranked Mumbai
Delhi sit on top of the leaderboard with 22 points while Mumbai have lost all the five matches they have played so far.
New Delhi: Riding on a 'wave' of success, Delhi Waveriders return to enjoy home support at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium when they take on Mumbai Magicians, who have arrived in the capital to overturn their five-match losing streak.
Delhi - five points clear of second-placed Ranchi Rhinos - have 22 points to their credit from five games but more importantly are yet to be beaten in the inaugural edition of the Hockey India League (HIL) having won four and drawn one match.
Mumbai, yet to open their win account, haven't really benefited from the arrival of Jason Wilson, Tim Deavan, Glenn Simpson (all Australia) and Steven Edwards (New Zealand) - replacements for their four Pakistan players named on Friday. All four have played the last two games but failed to make any difference to the team's fortunes. However, they showed signs of improvement in the last match, which they lost to Punjab Warriors with a narrow margin of 4-3.
The worrying factor for Mumbai remains the inconsistent form of skipper Sandeep Singh on penalty corners. Even though he leads the goal-scoring charts with six goals, getting them in as many as five matches and missing more often than scoring has hurt the team. Also what will keep Mumbai on their toes is the fact that they have already lost two matches to Delhi, the last of which was a see-saw battle that Delhi won 6-4.
Speaking before the clash, Sandeep suggested there's still a long way to go in the tournament and a win can change the fortunes of his team. "The Magicians have actually just begun to play together. We are kind of 10 days behind schedule in comparison with other teams. The tournament is surely not over for us and we are still reaching out for our first win," he said.
Replacements for their two Pakistan players have also arrived for the Delhi outfit in the form of New Zealanders Dean Couzins and Andrew Haywards. But with skipper Sardar Singh controlling things nicely from the middle and team looking set, they won't like to tinker too much with the combination that has given them four wins - two of which have come against Mumbai. Delhi coach AK Bansal echoed the same thoughts.
"Having played Mumbai twice already and winning against them we already have our strategy in place to take them on tomorrow. Nevertheless we won't be taking this match lightly and will play with the same momentum that we have been playing with. Our primary goal for tomorrow is to stop Sandeep Singh and not concede too many penalty corners", Bansal said.
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