Interesting battle likely between Mumbai Magicians and home team Ranchi Rhinos
Two teams with different starts will go head to head in the Hero Hockey India League, when Ranchi Rhinos take on Mumbai Magicians at home on Friday.
Ranchi Rhinos got off to a good start on Wednesday, when they handed Jaypee Punjab Warriors their second successive defeat in an away game. Rhinos, who have invested a lot in local talent, defended extremely well towards the end stages of the game on Wednesday, and the team management would love to see a similar performance from the backline against Magicians.
Mumbai Magicians suffered a 1-2 loss at the hands of Delhi Waveriders on Wednesday, and would be keen to score a win against Rhinos to get their campaign back on track. Having lost the opener in Delhi, Magicians have now travelled to Ranchi, leaving them with very less time to prepare for Friday’s game..
Magicians were dominated in the first three quarters of the match by Waveriders, and the team think tank would like to see them to be a bit more aggressive at the start. They made a match out of it in the final quarter, and, perhaps, there is some clue as to how Magicians would like to play in the future games. They almost sealed a draw on Wednesday, before Sandeep Singh’s penalty stroke in the last minute hit the cross-bar. Such a loss can take a lot out of a team psychologically and Magicians and Singh in particular, would need to forget Wednesday’s experience as soon as possible.
Rhinos were quite solid in their game against Warriors, but couldn’t keep possession of the ball for long periods. Like their Friday’s opponents Magicians, Rhinos also started quite cautiously on Wednesday. And that’s understandable, considering the fact that both the teams were playing their first game of the tournament. Hence, it would be interesting to see which team takes the charge at the start on Friday.
Both teams’ preparations would also involve the travelling factor, having played in Jalandhar on Wednesday. But then, playing at home has its own advantages, and Rhinos would be keen to exploit them.
Their English recruit Ashley Jackson was on target through a drag-flick on Wednesday, and he would be one guy that the Magicians would need to be wary of.
For Magicians, star striker Sandeep Singh finding form in the opener is good news. His last minute missed penalty stroke not standing, Singh looked dangerous against Waveriders, and managed to score his team’s only goal.
It could be quite an interesting battle between the Magicians frontline, led by Sandeep Singh, against the solid and strong defense of Ranchi Rhinos.
At a pre-match press conference held today Mr. Saurabh Dugar co-owner of Ranchi Rhinos said “The response and support we have received has been stupendous and we look forward to a grand opening tomorrow. Tomorrow’s opening ceremony at 6 p.m. will be hosted by Mandira Bedi and we have in store some catchy Bollywood performances and laser shows for our locals. We are really confident about our team and have complete faith in their performance in this tournament.”
Speaking on his coaching experience and the team’s performance Coach Gregg Clark said “It has been a herculean task to handle players from different countries, but we have managed to break the ice and have come together as a team. It’s been fun all along and we seem to be doing quite well for ourselves in this tournament. We look forward to our games and are confident in our performance”
The opening ceremony is set to begin tomorrow 18th January 2013, at 6 p.m. and the match will kick off at 8 p.m. at the Astroturf Hockey Stadium, Ranchi.
The Hero Hockey India League is organised by Hockey India with official sanction from the International Hockey Federation (FIH). The inaugural season is being played from January 14 to February 10, 2013 in a home-and-away format. The five franchisee-based teams, consisting of the top hockey players from India and around the world, will compete for the prestigious trophy. Hero Motocorp Ltd. is the Title Sponsor of the league while Airtel is the Associate Sponsor. Star Sports, who is the Broadcast Partner, will be telecasting all matches live.