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Resurgent Punjab look to end Delhi's unbeaten run
After a dismal start, Punjab have steadily made their way up the points table, while Delhi are yet to taste defeat.
New Delhi: Number three in the table now after a dismal start to their campaign, Punjab Warriors are in a better shape to upset Hockey India League's (HIL) only unbeaten team Delhi Waveriders when the two sides face-off at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium on Tuesday.
Punjab pushed the Uttar Pradesh Wizards behind them with a gut-wrenching 4-3 win in the last match. Full points earned in that match took Jamie Dwyer's team to 20 points, three clear of UP at the fourth place. Punjab may have lost their opening game to Delhi at this venue but with 3 wins and a draw in their last four matches, the visitors wear a far more settled look and are capable enough to hand Sardar Singh's team their first loss in 7 matches.
But Punjab have to be on guard against complacency, which crept into their game after then went ahead 4-1 against UP. That allowed UP to come back and make it 4-3 in the end, which should worry the coaching staff against the quality Delhi outfit.
Delhi, on the other hand, would like to press on having already confirmed a semi-final slot with 27 points from 6 games. Delhi have hit a purple patch having scored 15 goals in the last three games. But their defence has been guilty of conceding too many penalty corners, for which they were almost made to pay by Mumbai Magicians' skipper Sandeep Singh's hat-trick in the last match here, which the hosts won 4-3 in the end.
Delhi coach, AK Bansal, however, said his team is neither overconfident nor in a mood to relent having made it to the semi-finals. "Jaypee Warriors have come up the ladder really fast (but) we are not overconfident and will play with the same tempo as any other," he said.
Jagbir Singh, assistant coach of Punjab, said he is confident of his team giving Delhi a run for their money. "Our coordination has improved and it's showing on the field now. Rest assured we will give them [Delhi] a good fight. We have some new plans in place for them," Jagbir said.