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Delhi edge out Punjab in HIL opener

HIL gets off to glittering start with opening ceremony

Gulf News

New Delhi: Delhi Waveriders made a winning start in the inaugural Hockey India League, outsmarting the star-studded Jaypee Punjab Warriors 2-1 in the tournament opener at the Major Dhyan Chand Stadium on Monday.

Oskar Deecke and Gurvinder Singh Chandi scored for the Waveriders while Roger Padros earned a consolation goal for the Warriors. The home team got five points for the win.

The Delhi team, captained by Sardar Singh, looked the more cohesive lot on the field initially. Germany’s Deecke got the hosts the lead in the 14th minute with his flick from a difficult angle going in. The Warriors, led by Australian star striker Jamie Dwyer, did not look threatening at this moment.

Chandi extended Waveriders’ lead in the 22nd minute of the second quarter. It was a one-man show from the India international, who ran in from the right flank for a solid strike that deflected off teammate Mark Knowles’ stick and went into the goal.

The third quarter saw the Warriors making a comeback. The visitors looked like a team with a purpose, constantly attacking the opposition half. They were soon rewarded with a lifeline in the 43rd minute when Spaniard Roger Padros scored from a reverse flick from the right.

The Warriors created numerous chances from there on but the Waveriders managed to hold onto their advantage.

Earlier in the day, there was talk of the Mumbai Magicians shifting their base to Delhi following threats from Shiv Sena.

The inaugural Hockey India League (HIL), aimed at improving the state of the nation’s national game, began with a dazzling opening ceremony. However, the event at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium failed to attract a sizeable crowd in spite of the free entry.

The Indian Premier League-styled competition kicked off with Delhi Wave Riders hosting Jaypee Punjab Warriors but a lot of action was in store before the start of the match.

A light and sound show started the action-packed ceremony and was followed by an enthralling dance performance from a Ukrainian couple.

This was followed by a crowd-pleasing acrobatic performance with the acrobat floating in the air with the support of a helium balloon.

The captains of the five franchises then took the oath to play in the spirit of the game.

HIL chairman Narinder Batra in his speech said: “We are confident that HIL will be grand success. We have strived hard to boost the image of our national game.”

Next up was the HIL anthem composed by lyricist Prasoon Joshi, music director Aadesh Srivastava and singer Sukhwindra Singh.

Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley (BJP), IPL chairman Rajiv Shukla (Congress) and former India cricketer Navjot Singh Sidhu were also part of the ceremony.

The loudest roar came shortly after the ceremony and that was reserved for Sidhu, who was named HIL’s brand ambassador.