If you had to pick a winner ahead of Thursday’s HIL match between Delhi Waveriders and Mumbai Magicians, the former would have been the likely choice. Waveriders were on top of the table with the Magicians bringing up the rear, without a single win. The match was also being played at Delhi’s Dhyanchand Stadium where the hosts had lost just two of nine games. The game itself played to script but only just.
The match appeared heading to a draw until Yuvraj Walmiki scored off a deflection four minutes from time to give Waveriders a 2-1 win. The win, Waveriders’ fourth in seven games, kept them on top of the HIL points table. Magicians defeat was their fourth in five games.
Despite the result, it was Magicians created the more clearer chances but were repeatedly denied by Waveriders’ keeper Nicolas Jacobi who had an exceptional game. Equally to blame were Waveriders themselves as four players earned cards. Surender Kumar and midfielder Gurbaj Singh received green cards while Tristan White and Andres Mir Bel got yellow cards. “We weren’t able to get into any sort of rhythm because our players kept getting cards. We were playing with less than 11 players for more than a fifth (16 minutes) of the game,” said Waveriders coach Cedric D’Souza after the game.
Waveriders generally attack from the start but an ultradefensive Magicians ensured there was little action in the first quarter as neither side was able to control significant periods. However a defensive lapse by Magicians in the 20th minute saw Waveriders open their score. Lloyd Norris Jones led a counter down the center of the circle. Jones who had three defenders around him passed to an unmarked Akashdeep Singh and the Indian fired a reverse flick past David Harte who had rushed from the goalmouth.
The change of ends saw Magicians turn the tables on the hosts. Sarvanjit Singh strike from the right flag area was stopped dead by Jacobi just two minutes into the half. Ten minutes later Jacobi again made a crucial save. Bharat Chikkara’s pass found Ravipal but the latter’s shot bounced off the keeper and despited Faisal Saari’s attempt at a connection, the ball trickled to the right of the cage.
But the pressure eventually told. In the 49th minute Magicians finally drew level. Glenn Turner found the net off a rebound after an initial strike had once again been cleared by Jacobi.
Delhi seemed out of sorts and that was essentially due to managing for periods with a player less. Andres Mir Bel had an exceptional game on the left flank and his loss after a yellow card offence in the second quarter was another example of this. “We still aren’t being able to get our combinations on the midfield as well as we could,” surmised Waveriders captain Sardar Singh after the game.
However it was Magicians who were a man down after Bharat Chikkara wrongly tackled Surender Singh in the final minutes of the game. In the absence of a defender, Mir Bel’s pinpoint cross from the left corner found an unmarked Yuvraj Walmiki who got a perfect deflection over keeper Harte.
Magicians attempted another counter in the dying seconds but their forwards couldn’t get a touch on the ball. Despite their fourth defeat in the league, Magicians didn’t look like a team without a clue on the field.
“We have a lot of positives to take back from the game but we still need to find a way to win. Once we get a win, things will start falling in place. We need to start taking our chances.We still have a chance to make it to the semifinals. If we win all our remaining games, we should be able to go through but our chances keeps getting smaller,” said captain Turner.