Title holders Delhi Waveriders register their first victory of the season, following a 3–1 win over debutants Dabang Mumbai in a league match of the third edition of the Hero Hockey India League.
The Waveriders scored a goal each in the first, second and fourth quarter through Lloyd Norris Jones (10th minute), Simon Child (19th) and Akashdeep Singh (52nd) to record their maiden win in the ongoing edition of the six-team franchise-based event.
Dabang Mumbai’s lone goal came in the third quarter from the stick of veteran Arjun Halappa in the 36th minute at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium.
Both the Waveriders and Dabang Mumbai were slow to get off the blocks. The Delhi outfit in particular looked little out of sorts initially in the absence of its inspirational skipper Sardar Singh, who sat out of today’s encounter due to a one-game suspension for inappropriate physical contact with a rival player during his side's last match.
But despite Sardar's absence, the Mumbai outfit did very little to take advantage of the fact at least in the first two quarters.
The Waveriders got the first scoring opportunity early in the match but Andrew Hayward’s try was kept out by a Mumbai defender.
But it did not take long for the hosts to surge ahead as in the 10th minute Lloyd Norris Jones scored with a fierce hit from top of the circle after receiving a defence splitting pass from Yuvraj Walmiki.
Norris Jones was once again at the thick of action three minutes later but his reverse hit just went wide of the Mumbai goal.
Minutes later Dabang Mumbai secured their first penalty corner but the opportunity went abegging as the Waveriders ended the first quarter with a slender one goal lead.
The Waveriders continued their attacking play in the second quarter and in the process doubled their lead in the 19th minute when Child neatly deflected in a Rupinderpal Singh flick from their second penalty corner.
Stunned by two goals, Dabang Mumbai pressed forward and created some good moves but they lacked finishing as the Waveriders enjoyed a 2-0 lead at halftime.
After the change of ends, Dabang Mumbai showed greater urgency and managed to earn a penalty corner soon but Harmanpreet Singh’s low flick was cleared off the goal line by Surender Kumar.
But minutes later, Halappa pulled one back for the visitors when he scored from a rebound after the ball fell on his path after ricocheting from Waveriders goalkeeper Erasmus Pieterse’s feet.
Thereafter, Dabang Mumbai created some bright moves with Glen Turner and Halappa at the forefront but they failed to convert the chances into goals.
Just at the start of the fourth and final quarter, both the teams got a penalty corner each but failed to capitalise.
Eight minutes from the final hooter, the Waveriders hit the Mumbai side hard when Akashdeep scored a fine field goal from top of the circle.
Dabang Mumbai managed to secure another penalty corner minutes later but they lacked in conversion as the Waveriders defence did enough to hold on to their two-goal advantage and register their first win of the season.
By virtue of this win, the Waveriders have moved up to the third position in the standings with 10 points from four games, while Dabang Mumbai continues to languish at the bottom with six points from four outings.
But Dabang Mumbai have a chance to avenge their defeat three days later when they take on the Waveriders in the return leg on February 5 at Mumbai.