CHANDIGARH: FEB 14,
Uttar Pradesh Wizards (UPW) won its second game of the competition to stay in the race for a knock-out spot with a comprehensive 6-2 victory over Jaypee Punjab Warriors (JPW) here on Monday.
This was the second consecutive loss for the host at home and the result opens up the leaderboard with all the four bottom teams still in the reckoning for a semifinal berth.
Playing a far more attacking game than it has in the past couple of games, Warriors earned its first penalty corner in the very first minute, forcing P.R. Sreejesh to come to his team’s rescue.
Wizards, on the other hand, was up to the challenge as the teams played an open game while ensuring a tight defence.
The visitors went ahead in the fifth minute after P.R. Aiyappa’s shot into the striking circle rebounded off Mink van der Weerden’s stick and Shamsher Singh made no mistake.
With the match being crucial for both sides, the teams repeatedly went for field goals instead of trying to hold on and earn penalty corners.
There were only three penalty corners in the game — one for Wizards and two for the host. Warriors was the more attacking of the two, earning chances in the first few minutes of every quarter, and one of them saw S.V. Sunil send the ball in 30 seconds into the third quarter.
The ball went past Sreejesh and found Mirco Pruijser, who beat Gonzalo Peillat to level scores.
Warriors attacked from both flanks. Armaan Qureshi, returning after missing two games due to a shin injury, troubled the Wizards defence on the left and Sunil on the right, but was unable to get past Raghunath and Co.
Akashdeep Singh kept feeding the strikers before Ajay Yadav received one at the top of the circle and slammed the ball past Warriors ’keeper Tristan Clemons, who had been exceptional in the last three games.
Akashdeep got his name on the scoresheet with a reverse hit in the 57th minute to extend the lead and seal the win for his team.
With a three-day break for Warriors before it plays its remaining two home matches, the defending champion will be hoping to use the rest to recoup and plan ahead.
Wizards, already forced to play two of its home games in Delhi due to the State elections, will be hoping to make full use of home advantage when it travels back to Lucknow for the next game.