I hope to make a difference against Aussies: Harbhajan
Don’t want sympathies, time to show steel: Gambhir
Unruly Praveen gets show cause notice
Rest retain Irani Trophy after draw vs Mumbai
Aussies can blunt spinners: Cowan
Voges ton sees Oz whitewash WI
With crushing win, super Aussies sprint into final
Shrubsole’s fiver helps England crush S Africa
Sushil eyes return at Asian Championship
India has not done enough for us: Afghanistan coach
Nadal aims at double triumph on comeback
Uttarakhand Lions rally to win GPL
Messi strikes for Barcelona
Hockey India league
Raghunath fires UP to 3rd
Selectors give maiden call to Delhi opener Shikhar Dhawan, Bhuvneshwar Kumar
Mumbai, February 10
Senior off-spinner Harbhajan Singh, who seems to have regained some lost touch in the ongoing Irani Cup tie, rode on past reputation to return to the squad to form announced by the BCCI Secretary Sanjay Jagdale.
The selection committee, headed by Sandeep Patil, made three changes to the squad that was selected in the last Test match against England, after deliberating for over two hours at the BCCI headquarters here.
With Zaheer Khan and Umesh Yadav yet to recover from injuries, the selectors decided to include in-form 23-year-old Bhuvneshwar, who impressed in the limited overs-series against England and Pakistan.
The 32-year-old Harbhajan, who was dropped from the team after the lost third Test against England in November, has been brought back, keeping in mind his excellent record against Australia. R Ashwin, Pragyan Ojha and Ravindra Jadeja are the other three spinners in the squad. Harbhajan is a proven performer against the team from Down Under especially on the dustbowls at home and that reputation alone seems to have worked for him given that his domestic form this season has hardly been impressive.
On the other hand, the 31-year-old Gambhir, for whom a Test hundred has proved elusive for over three years now, became the biggest casualty of India's 1-2 home debacle against England last year. Gambhir will, however, lead India A in a practice match against Australia from February 16 to 18 in place of Dhawan.
The four-match Test series will start in Chennai on February 22.
The fact that Dhawan is a left-hander could have tilted the scales in his favour as Gambhir is a southpaw.
The 27-year-old's most recent noteworthy batting effort was a hundred for Delhi in a warm-up match against England in November. Dhawan, who has scored 833 runs in the current first-class season with four hundreds, has played five ODIs and a Twenty20 International for India. Although retained, Sehwag has also not been in the best of form and missed a chance to get some runs under his belt by skipping the Irani Cup tie here due to a stomach bug. Murali Vijay and Ajinkya Rahane are the other two openers in the squad. The 28-year-old Vijay had cracked a century in the Irani Cup.
In absence of Irfan Pathan, the all-rounder's slot has once again gone to Ravindra Jadeja with the selectors deciding against picking Suresh Raina, who had made his case with a hundred and 70 plus.
Speculation was rife about S Sreesanth making a comeback to the team having recovered from career-threatening toe injury but the maverick pacer was ignored despite an earnest effort in the Irani Cup.
Similar was case of Wasim Jaffer, who was in contention for a call-up after more than four years, but failed to get the nod despite scores of 80 and 100 in the match.
Jaffer has plundered more than 900 runs at an average of over 74 for Ranji champions Mumbai this season. Interestingly, Jaffer today also became the leading run-getter in Irani Cup history with more than 1000 runs to his credit.
Save for Gambhir's axing, the batting line-up has not been tinkered with and Sachin Tendulkar, Virat Kohli, Chetshwar Pujara were automatic choices.
Struggling for a while, the 39-year-old Tendulkar prepared in right earnest for the series with an unbeaten hundred for Mumbai in the Irani Cup. The pace attack would be spearheaded by Ishant Sharma with Bhuvneshwar, and Ashok Dinda. — PTI
Mumbai, February 10
“Comebacks are always tough. As long as you continue to work hard and believe you can make a difference and do well in international cricket, you can make a comeback,” Harbhajan said.
“I am very happy to be back in the Test squad and hopefully, I can make the difference there," said Harbhajan, whose last Test before this series was against England at the Wankhede Stadium.
Harbhajan said that a number of left-handers in the opposition squad could work to India's advantage.
“It's always nice to play against Australia. They have a pretty new batting line-up. If I am not wrong they have a lot of left-handers, apart from (Michael) Clarke and (Shane) Watson and they have not played much Test cricket and not played in India.
“This would be a challenging series for them and hopefully we will put them under pressure from the first day of the Test match." Having been out in the wilderness for the better part of the last 18 months, Harbhajan said that he has been qworking very hard on his game at the domestic level. “When you are playing Ranji Trophy constantly sometimes you may take wickets and sometimes you may not. But I have been working very hard on my game and trying to give everything I have every day.
“A new day gives you a new opportunity. That's what I have kept telling myself that I am still good enough to play for India and that's the reason I have been playing cricket.” — PTI
New Delhi, February 10
“No sympathies plz,” the diminutive opener tweeted after the news of his exclusion. The left-hander will be leading India A against the Australians in a three-day first-class tie and the 31-year-old Delhi lad is looking forward to that game.
“Lookin forward to training n then d india a game. Chin up guys, its time to show some steel. Come on,” he further wrote on his twitter handle @5gautamgambhir. On his own admission this is not the first time that his back is against the wall and he is willing to fight it out with his “chin up.” “Had my bak to d wall in d past 2, dis is no diferent. Will fight,” he commented. He congratulated Shikhar Dhawan and Murali Vijay. — PTI
New Delhi, February 10
“Praveen Kumar has been issued a Show cause notice by the Board. He has been suspended from participating in the forthcoming inter-state Vijay Hazare Trophy matches," the BCCI said.
Praveen, who was named in Uttar Pradesh's 15-member squad for the Vijay Hazare trophy, has now been left out of the squad. The bowler was issued a letter by the BCCI yesterday, asking him to explain his stand on the incident at the Board's Corporate Trophy held in Raipur last week, where he was playing for ONGC.
Praveen had bowled a short-pitched delivery at Ajitesh Argal of Income Tax and when the batsman checked with the umpire whether it was a no ball, the former started abusing him. — PTI
Mumbai, February 10
Rest, who clinched the title for the 26th time in the tournament's 51st year, had been virtually assured of supremacy yesterday itself after notching up 296 for 4 in their second innings for an overall lead of 413 runs at the Wankhede Stadium.
Today, Harbhajan Singh-led Rest side increased the overall lead to a mammoth 506 when they declared their second innings closed at 389 for 5, with Ambati Rayudu remaining unbeaten on 156 after batting for over six hours and hitting 12 fours and 4 sixes.
With draw the only result barring a collapse by Mumbai, the home team cruised along to 160 for 4 wickets with Jaffer, after being ignored for the Test squad against Australia by the selectors who met here, compiling an unbeaten 101 before the game was called off by mutual consent after the third mandatory over in the last hour of play.
Rest, thus, retained the crown they lifted by outclassing Rajasthan by an innings and 79 runs in September last at Bangalore.
Rayudu was on 118 and Suresh Raina on 40 when game commenced this morning and the latter got out after notching up 71 with 5 fours and 3 sixes to follow up his first innings top score of 134 out of 526.
The duo completed the 100 of their fifth wicket partnership off 160 balls, Raina reached his half century in 94 balls and then got out to a leading edge to be caught at short third man off young left arm spinner Vishal Dabholkar. Raina was out in the 12th over to end his 145-run partnership with Rayudu.
Harbhajan then applied closure to the innings with Rayudu, who faced 289 balls, and Wridhiman Saha (20) at the crease, 52 minutes before lunch. Chasing the improbable target, Mumbai lost the wickets of opener Aditya Tare (11), Ajinkya Rahane (25), Rohit Sharma, who flopped for the second time in the match by scoring one after his duck in the first innings, and captain Abhishek Nayar (2). — PTI
RoI 2nd inngs (Overnight 296-4)
Dhawan c Nayar b Kulkarni 0
Vijay c Sharma b Thakur 35
Sreesanth run out 18
Tiwary c Jaffer b Dabholkar 69
Rayudu not out 156
Raina c Rahane b Dabholkar 71
Saha not out 20
Total: (5 wkts d, in 120 ov) 389
Bowling: Kulkarni 17-6-35-1, Nayar 9-3-28-0, Khan 14-6-33-0, Thakur 12-1-44-1, Chavan 38-4-126-0, Dabholkar 25-1-97-2, Sharma 5-0-21-0
Mumbai 2nd inngs
Jaffer not out 101
Tare c Dhawan b Harbhajan 11
Rahane c Vijay b Harbhajan 25
Sharma c Mithun b Ojha 1
Nayar c Saha b Raina 2
Chavan not out 12
Total: (4 wkts, in 54 ovs) 160
Fall of wickets: 1-36, 2-89, 3-104, 4-123
Bowling: Sreesanth 6-2-7-0, Pandey 3-2-8-0, Ojha 12-0-45-1, Harbhajan Singh 16-1-38-2, Mithun 2-0-14-0, Raina 7-1-14-1, Tiwary 4-1-17-0, Rayudu 3-0-10-0, Vijay 1-0-1-0
Chennai, February 10
India have three frontline spinners, including R Aswhin, Pragyan Ojha and comeback-man Harbhajan Singh, in the squad to counter the Australian batsmen.
“By the time the first Test rolls, we'll be prepared.
We've seen Ashwin in Australia and we watched a lot of the India-England series so we're pretty comfortable with our plans to counter their skills.
"They're very skillful bowlers in these conditions and they will be a major part of India trying to win the series but we're confident that we can blunt them and attack them,” Cowan said.
The 30-year-old left-handed batsman said the lesson they have learnt by watching India-England games is that the key to overpower Indian spinners was to attack them.
“What's really important is to put pressure on them. We saw in the England series that when they settled in they were able to dictate terms but the guys who did well against them looked to attack them and we'll look to do the same,” he said.
Cowan said he himself fine-tuned his game to tackle spin challenge. “We've had a little bit of a break from first class cricket back home so we've had 5-6 weeks off which have been a spin-intensive batting camp.” — PTI
Melbourne, February 10
West Indies had looked on target to chase down a 275-run target at the MCG when Johnson Charles struck his maiden century to match Voges, who scored a magnificent unbeaten 112.
The West Indian opener struck a boundary to bring up his 100 off 120 balls, including eight fours and a six.
But he fell next ball, caught by Ben Cutting at square leg playing a poor shot to Clint McKay. He had ridden his luck, surviving two dropped catches and two television reviews. After that West Indian wickets fell regularly as the required run rate soared and they were forced to hit out. Captain Darren Sammy had a late chance to guide the tourists to the target but he was caught behind by Brad Haddin off McKay for 23 off 18 balls.
West Indies still needed 18 runs off five balls and it proved too much. Opener Kieran Powell had been the first to go, caught in the slips by Aaron Finch off paceman Mitchell Johnson for just two.
Darren Bravo managed 33 in a partnership of 106 with Charles before all-rounder James Faulkner held a fine low catch off Xavier Doherty's finger spin.
Brother Dwayne had made 13 when Johnson clean-bowled him with a late inswinger. After Charles went, Narsingh Deonarine was out for four. — PTI
Watson b Best 0
Finch c Narine b Best 1
Hughes c Pollard b DJ Bravo 29
Marsh c Thomas b DJ Bravo 40
Voges not out 112
Haddin c Powell b Roach 43
Faulkner not out 31
Total: (5 wkts, 50 ovs) 274
Bowling: Best 10-1-71-2, Sammy 10-1-37-0, Roach10-0-52-1, Narine 10-1-27-0, Bravo 8-0-62-2, Pollard 2-0-15-0
Charles c Cutting b McKay 100
Powell c Finch b Johnson 2
Bravo c Faulkner b Doherty 33
DJ Bravo b Johnson 13
Pollard c Finch b Faulkner 45
Deonarine c Haddin b Cutting 4
Thomas run out 19
Sammy c Haddin b McKay 23
Narine b Johnson 0
Roach not out 2
Best c Coulter-Nile b McKay 0
Total: (all out, 49.5 ov) 257
Fall of wickets: -7 2-113 3-129 4-182 5-186 6-228 7-234 8-246 9-257
Bowling: McKay 9.5-0-52-3, Johnson 10-1-50-3, Cutting 10-0-53-1, Faulkner 10-0-47-1, Doherty 9-0-46-1, Finch 1-0-2-0
Mumbai, February 10
In reply to Sri Lanka’s paltry 131, Australia chased down the target in just 22.2 overs. This was Australia’s fifth successive victory in the tournament.
In contrast to the Sri Lankans, who took 206 deliveries to reach the three-digit mark, Australia scored at slightly faster pace than run-a-ball to get to 100 in only 96 balls.
Openers Meg Lanning and Rachael Haynes provided a solid platform as the duo stitched a 55-run partnership. Haynes scored an unbeaten 71 off 61 balls laced with nine fours and two sixes, while Lanning hit a 36-ball 37 studded with six fours and a six.
Prasadini Weerakkody was the only Lankan bowler to have picked up a wicket, getting rid of Lanning.
Earlier, put in to bat, Sri Lanka started on a disastrous note to be reeling at 41 for four before they eventually got all out for 131 in 45.2 overs.
Aussie off-spinner Erin Osborne was the pick of the bowlers, scalping three for nine from her 10 overs.
Incidentally this was Sri Lanka’s highest score against Australia, as they were earlier bundled out for 82 in 2000 and 57 in 2005.
One-down batter, Deepika Rasangika (43) anchored the innings to an extent and shared a 49-run stand with wicketkeeper-batter Dilani Manodara (21) to steer the team past 100-run mark.
Australia’s pace attack exploited the conditions well as Megan Schutt, Julie Hunter and Holly Ferling picked up wicket apiece at the start.
Australia were without the services of pace spearhead Ellyse Perry, who aggravated an ankle injury. She is expected to be fit for the next match against the West Indies. — PTI
Chamari c Schutt b Hunter 10
Yashoda b Schutt 0
Deepika c Sthalekar b Schutt 43
Shashikala c Fields b Ferling 2
Sandamali c Fields b Sthalekar 4
Dilani c Schutt b Osborne 21
Eshani c Blackwell b Osborne 0
Prasadini b Osborne 13
Chamani c Sthalekar b Coyte 17
Udeshika not out 9
Inoka c Cameron b Sthalekar 1
Extras: (lb 2 , w 9) 11
Total: (all out; 45.2 overs) 131
Fall of wickets: 1-7, 2-16, 3-28, 4-41, 5-90, 6-90, 7-95, 8-108, 9-130
Bowling: Megan Schutt 8-2-34-2, Julie Hunter 6-3-6-1, Holly Ferling 6-0-23-1, Lisa Sthalekar 8.2-1-26-2, Sarah Coyte 7-0-31-1, Erin Osborne 10-6-9-3.
Meghann c Chamari b Weerakkody 37
Rachael not out 71
Jessica not out 22
Extras: (lb 1, w 1) 2
Total: (For 1 wkt; 22.2 overs) 132
Fall of wkt: 1-55
Bowling: Udeshika 4-1-11-0, Eshani 1-0-8-0, Chamani 5.2-0-26-0, Prasadini 3-0-21-1, Inoka 2-0-17-0, Shashikala 5-0-28-0, Deepika 5-0-20-0
Shrubsole’s fiver helps England crush S Africa
Cuttack, February 10 Shrubsole produced a devastating spell of pace bowling to claim all the top five South African batters and leave them gasping for breath at 42 for five in 16 overs after skipper Charlotte Edwards decided to field on winning the toss. While Shrubsole gave just 17 runs in her 10 overs, teammate Danielle Wyatt mopped up the South African tail, taking the last three batswomen in just nine deliveries to skittle them out for a paltry 77 in 29.3 overs. England then overhauled the target by making 81 in 9.3 overs after losing three wickets at the Barabati Stadium here. Lydia Greenway (25) and Arran Brindle (28) took the team home after the dismissal of Edwards (6), Wyatt (14) and Sarah Taylor (0). Brief scores South Africa: 77 all out (Shrubsole 5/17) England: 81/3 (Brindle 28, Greenway 25). — PTI
Cuttack, February 10
Shrubsole produced a devastating spell of pace bowling to claim all the top five South African batters and leave them gasping for breath at 42 for five in 16 overs after skipper Charlotte Edwards decided to field on winning the toss.
While Shrubsole gave just 17 runs in her 10 overs, teammate Danielle Wyatt mopped up the South African tail, taking the last three batswomen in just nine deliveries to skittle them out for a paltry 77 in 29.3 overs.
England then overhauled the target by making 81 in 9.3 overs after losing three wickets at the Barabati Stadium here.
Lydia Greenway (25) and Arran Brindle (28) took the team home after the dismissal of Edwards (6), Wyatt (14) and Sarah Taylor (0).
South Africa: 77 all out (Shrubsole 5/17)
England: 81/3 (Brindle 28, Greenway 25). — PTI
New Delhi, February 10
“I suffered an injury on my shoulder and to my right hand which kept me out of action. But now I have completely recovered from it and doing my regular practice,” Sushil said at promotional event today.
Sushil has not participated in any competition since his silver medal winning feat in London last year due to the shoulder injury that aggravated during the Olympics. — PTI
The 29-year-old is confident of making a comeback in the senior Asian championships to be held at the K D Jadhav stadium here.
“My preparations are directed towards the Asian Championships which will be played infront of our homecrowd. I hope to play in the competition,” he said.
Sharing the experiences of his father’s battle against cancer, Sushil said it was his father’s motivation that propelled him to deliver his best at the London Olympics last year.
He recalled the time when the came to know about his father being diagnosed with the dreaded disease.
“The name of the disease is frightening. It was difficult for me to concentrate on competitions. I was mentally very down. But my father was always positive. He told me to focus on my wrestling which I did,” Sushil said.
Despite being detected at the last stage, his father’s was successfully treated for cancer and is now fully fit.
“My father now walks eight kilometres daily. We can successfully fight this disease. Sports help fight cancer,” he said.
The meet was attended by people who have successfully battled cancer and their family members. They also participated in events such as cricket and races.
Lahore, February 10
Kabir, a former Pakistan Test pacer who has now been working with the Afghanistan national team for last few years except for a short break, told PTI that the Indian Cricket Board could do a lot more for Afghan players.
“If you look at England they go out of their way to support the associate cricket nations in their region including Holland, Ireland and Scotland by allowing their players to play in their county and league cricket and helping them with coaching programmes," Khan said.
"In comparison in South Asia although they are four Test playing nations Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh we don't get that kind of support from them except Pakistan. India has the influence and money to do a lot for Afghanistan cricket if they want. But so far we are still waiting," Khan said. He pointed out that the moment India starts providing proper support and encouragement to Afghanistan cricket, it would quickly move forward.
“There is a lot of passion for cricket in Afghanistan and they are good players but we suffer mainly because we don't have a domestic cricket structure.” — PTI
Vina del Mar, February 10
Seven months on the sidelines because of injury do not appear to have diminished Nadal’s hunger for success as he reached the singles final at the Chilean claycourt event with a 6-2 6-2 drubbing of third-seeded Frenchman Jeremy Chardy.
The seven-times French Open champion will aim to win his 37th title on the slow surface when he takes on little-known Argentine Horacio Zeballos in the final.
“I played well in the semis, better than the days before, which is important,” said Nadal, who is playing his first event since losing to Czech Lukas Rosol in the second round at Wimbledon last June.
“I won’t compare myself to seven months ago, it’s just the first week of competition. It’s a great feeling to be in a final match after so much time without playing.
“It will be a tough match against Horacio, who is playing great tennis. I hope to keep enjoying myself like I’ve been doing during this tournament and that my physical condition remains good.”
The 26-year-old Nadal will get a chance to enjoy himself further when he joins forces with Argentine Juan Monaco in the doubles final against Italians Paolo Lorenzi and Potito Starace.
“I’m really happy with what I’ve been doing this week,” said Nadal. “I have a good feeling on the court. So I cannot ask for anything more. I will try to play better and better every day.” — Reuters
Uttarakhand Lions rally to win GPL
Aamby Valley, February 10 Uttarakhand Lions, third overnight seven shots adrift of leaders Punjab Lancers and five behind second-placed Delhi Darts, zoomed to the top at 34-under. The team consisted of one of the most successful players in team competitions and a many-time hero at the Ryder Cup, Darren Clarke, Mukesh Kumar, Chapchai Nirat and Shankar Das. Punjab Lancers and Kenwood Delhi Darts were tied for second at 33-under, while UP Eagles ended fourth at 32-under despite an incredible 11-under by Anirban Lahiri and Shamim Khan. Uttarakhand Lions were powered by sterling performances from the Clarke-Chapchai and the Mukesh-Shankar combinations. Clarke and Chapchai soared on the wings a dramatic eagle and seven birdies for nine-under in the 14-hole round. Mukesh and Shankar were eight-under with two holes to play, before they bogeyed the 13th, the penultimate hole, but then Mukesh birdied the final par-3, which has a beach bunker and hauled his team atop the leaderboard. — PTI
Aamby Valley, February 10
Uttarakhand Lions, third overnight seven shots adrift of leaders Punjab Lancers and five behind second-placed Delhi Darts, zoomed to the top at 34-under. The team consisted of one of the most successful players in team competitions and a many-time hero at the Ryder Cup, Darren Clarke, Mukesh Kumar, Chapchai Nirat and Shankar Das.
Punjab Lancers and Kenwood Delhi Darts were tied for second at 33-under, while UP Eagles ended fourth at 32-under despite an incredible 11-under by Anirban Lahiri and Shamim Khan.
Uttarakhand Lions were powered by sterling performances from the Clarke-Chapchai and the Mukesh-Shankar combinations.
Clarke and Chapchai soared on the wings a dramatic eagle and seven birdies for nine-under in the 14-hole round. Mukesh and Shankar were eight-under with two holes to play, before they bogeyed the 13th, the penultimate hole, but then Mukesh birdied the final par-3, which has a beach bunker and hauled his team atop the leaderboard. — PTI
Madrid, February 10
Alexis Sanchez and David Villa made the most of a rare place in the starting lineup with goals either side of Messi’s strike and Andres Iniesta, Cristian Tello and Gerard Pique were also on the scoresheet as Barca racked up a 20th victory in 23 matches to move on to 62 points.
Atletico Madrid have 50 points in second place ahead of their game at Rayo Vallecano later on Sunday, four ahead of third-placed Real Madrid.
Barca’s interim coach Jordi Roura, standing in for Tito Vilanova who is recovering from throat surgery, rested several key players for Getafe’s visit to the Nou Camp, including Spain trio Pedro, Cesc Fabregas and Sergio Busquets.
Unusually, Barca had been handed the midday kickoff slot but the unfamiliar starting time failed to dampen the players’ hunger for victory in front of more than 85,000 fans thronging the giant arena and enjoying the sunshine.
Alexis struck in the sixth minute, Messi made it 2-0 seven minutes later and Villa put the game well beyond Getafe, who are 12th on 29 points, with a third just before the hour.
As Getafe started to wilt, Messi surged forward and laid the ball off for substitute Tello to curl in a fourth 11 minutes from time before a mistake from Jordi Alba let in Alvaro Vazquez to pull a goal back for the visitors in the 83rd minute.
Iniesta, who caused Getafe constant problems with his pace and guile, picked up a loose ball and fired in from close range in the 90th and Pique rounded off the party in the second minute of added time with a tap-in from Thiago Alcantara’s unselfish layoff.
Meanwhile, Messi’s great rival Cristiano Ronaldo warmed up in style for Wednesday’s Champions League showdown with former club Manchester United by claiming a hat-trick and an assist as Real Madrid crushed Sevilla 4-1.
The Portuguese forward set up Karim Benzema to open the scoring from close range in the 18th minute at a festive Bernabeu stadium.
Ronaldo doubled the home side’s lead with a powerful left-foot strike from the edge of the area eight minutes later and added his second in the 46th minute after a blunder in the Sevilla defence. The 28-year-old completed his treble in the 59th minute when he started and finished a swift break to chalk up the 21st hat-trick of his career and his 17th in La Liga.
Ronaldo took his tally for the season to 24 league goals, 10 behind top scorer Lionel Messi of Barcelona.
“We have a phenomenon (in Ronaldo). I cannot recall anything like it,” Real director and former club great Emilio Butragueno told Canal Plus television. — Reuters
Waveriders skipper Sardar Singh adjudged player of the tournament
Ranchi, February 10
The Rhinos were trailing for most part of the match after Simon Child gave Delhi the lead in the 25th minute.
But the Ranchi outfit never gave up and displayed tremendous fighting spirit to score through Austin Smith (55th) before Manpreet Singh (63rd) scored a late winner for the home team.
Earlier in the day, Uttar Pradesh Wizards rode on captain V R Raghunath's four goals, including a hat-trick, to finish third, defeating Jaypee Punjab Warriors 4-3 in the bronze medal play-off match.
As expected, the title clash, a match between the two best outfits of the tournament, displayed scintillating hockey by both Delhi and Ranchi, which was fast and free-flowing.
The Rhinos seemed to enjoy playing in front of a vociferous home crowd as they overshadowed the Waveriders, at least, in the first quarter.
The match started on an aggressive note with both the teams adopting an attacking approach but it was the Rhinos who dominated the early exchanges with more penetrations inside the rival circle.
The Waveriders, however, picked up their game in the second quarter and scored against the run of play in the 25th minute through Simon Child to silence the capacity crowd. An opportunistic Child slammed the ball into the right corner of the Ranchi post after picking up a loose ball inside the 'D'.
The Rhinos got an opportunity to draw parity in the 32nd minute when they earned their first penalty corner, but skipper Moritz Fuerste's low flick was saved by an alert Nicolas Jacobi at the Delhi goal. Leading by a goal, the Waveriders started the second half on a positive note and soon managed to earn three penalty corners in succession but Rupinder Pal Singh wasted all the three with Ranchi goal-keeper Fransico Cortes coming to his side's rescue on two occasions. The Rhinos were unlucky not to have levelled the scoreline just before the end of the third quarter. Their star forward and tournament's highest scorer Mandeep Singh missed a sitter from close range after he was set up by Fuerste.
The Rhinos made continuous inroads into the rival citadel in search of the equalizer and their consistent pressure finally paid off in the 55th minute when Smith brought the hosts on level terms.
Smith beautifully executed a variation with a grounded flick from the Ranchi's third penalty corner after earning the set piece following a successful referral appeal. After managing to equalize, the Rhinos went for the killer blow which rocked the Delhi defence.
After holding on to most part of the game, the Waveriders' backline started to buckle under Ranchi's consistent pressure and in the process made a mistake which cost them the title. Ranchi earned another penalty corner in the 63rd minute and Manpreet scored from a rebound after Ashley Jackson's initial flick was saved.
With time running out, Delhi pressed hard for an all-important equalizer but it was not to be as the Rhinos' defence were up to the task.
It was a double celebration for the Rhinos as they not only won the inaugural HIL title but also bagged the Fair Play Trophy. Ranchi's young forward Mandeep Singh also won the most promising player of the tournament. Despite the defeat there was something to cheer about for the Waveriders as its skipper Sardar Singh was adjudged player of the tournament.
Besides the trophy, champions Ranchi Rhinos pocketed Rs 2.5 crores, while runners-up Delhi Waveriders took home Rs 1.25 crore. Third-placed Uttar Pradesh Wizards got richer by 75 lakhs.
Rhinos skipper Moritz Furste ecstatic after victory
Ranchi Rhinos skipper Moritz Furste came at the post-match press conference with full of joy and shouting – “Hum Jeet Gayein. Nas Nas Mein Hockey Hai” and praised all the players, “We played extremely well today and this was our best game. We defended and contested well today. Goalkeeper Francisco Cortes performed brilliantly today and his saves gave us the victory. We played much better than our previous matches against Delhi Waveriders.”
Coach Gregg Clark said that after auction, he didn’t expect this result. “When I saw the Team List, I was not very hopeful. But the franchise and officials gave me the confidence about the team.” — PTI
Ranchi, February 10
Raghunath single-handedly spoiled Punjab's party with individual brilliance as he converted four penalty corners to ensure the win for the Wizards' after they were down 0-3 till the 39th minute.
The Warriors, however, were the better side on display, at least in the opening half, as they controlled the proceedings from the start.
Mark Knowles (4th minute), SV Sunil (8th) and Ranjit Singh (39th) scored early for the Warriors.
But riding on Raghunath’s (42nd, 62nd, 64th, 85th) penalty corner conversions, the Wizards made a strong comeback in the second half to not level the scoreline.
However, it was the Warriors who dominated the early exchanges and broke the deadlock just four minutes into the game through Knowles. The Warriors doubled their lead four minutes later through a diving Sunil who deflected in from a penalty corner.
The UP team went for the referral but it went against them. Ranjit then made the scoreline 3-0 Warriors through a field effort.
Raghunath pulled one back for the Wizards in the 42nd minute from a penalty corner.
Trailing 1-3, the Wizards pressed hard for goals thereafter and it took two brilliant corner conversions from Raghunath in three minutes to draw parity and take match into extra time. In the two extra time periods of seven-and-a-half minutes the teams did not give an inch to the other. The Wizards earned a penalty corner in the final minute and Raghunath made no mistake. — PTI
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