One of the major reasons for Ranchi Rhinos winning the inaugural edition of the Hockey India League last season was their impeccable home form. They made the Astroturf Stadium their fortress, losing just two matches in the entire campaign and then asserted their supremacy on home turf in the semifinal and final.
Naturally, they felt confident going into their season two opener at home despite the absence of their influential skipper Moritz Fuerste. However, to the disappointment of a packed crowd, the Gregg Clark-coached side began its title defence with a shock 3-2 loss to Uttar Pradesh Wizards on Sunday.
It was always going to be interesting to see how the Rhinos would react to the attention they received going into this tie. And they began well. Mandeep Singh, who had scored 10 goals in the inaugural HIL, carried on his fine form from last season, putting his team ahead with an opportunistic strike in the fourth minute. However, his strike was cancelled out by striker Nikkin Thimmaiah in the ninth minute.
Manpreet Singh wore the captain’s armband in absence of Fuerste, who will miss the initial part of the HIL owing to his involvement with Germany in the European Indoor Championships. And the absence was clearly felt by the Rhinos especially in the midfield and deep defence. Without Fuerste to help him, Ashley Jackson looked overburdened with the responsibility to set-up the strikers.
Rhinos, nevertheless, looked a more dangerous outfit with Jackson and Barry Middleton combining well. And they were rewarded for their constant pressure in the 47th minute after Justin Reid-Ross put them ahead for the second time in the match via a smartly-executed penalty corner. Once again, though, their joy was short-lived as VR Raghunath equalized for Wizards three minutes later, once again from a corner.
- Soon You Could Get Plastic Currency Notes: Find Out More
- Ranveer Singh and Vaani Kapoor Starrer Befikre Gets A Thumbs Up
- Supreme Court Seeks Centre’s Response Over Various Issues Regarding Demonetisation
- Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar Writes To West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee
- Bigg Boss 10 December 8 Review: Swami Om Feels Cheated, lashes Out At Gaurav For Jail Punishment
- South Korean President Park Geun-Hye Impeached Over Corruption Scandal
- Former Air Chief SP Tyagi Arrested In VVIP Chopper Scam
- After Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi, Liquor Baron Vijay Mallya’s Twitter Account Hacked
- Find Out What PM Narendra Modi Told Cabinet Over Demonetisation Decision
- Home Minister Rajnath Singh Assures Safety Of All Tourists Stranded On Havelock Island
- Government To Waive Service Tax On Debit, Credit Card Transactions Of Up To Rs 2,000
- President Pranab Mukherjee Criticises Parliament Disruptions Over Demonetisation
- Pakistan International Airlines Flight Carrying Over 40 Passenger On Board Crashes
- Shah Rukh Khan On Raees Clash With Kaabil: It’s Impossible To Have A Solo Release In India
- US-President Elect Donald Trump Named TIME’s Person Of The Year 2016
Just when it seemed that the two teams will settle for a point each, Pradeep Mor’s stunning goal from the edge of the ‘D’ gave Wizards the lead against the run of play in the 63rd minute. Rhinos upped the ante and made constant inroads into the Wizards D’ in search of an equaliser but were denied on more than one occasion by goalkeeper Kumar Subramaniam, who was named man-of-the-match.