A spirited Ranchi Rays overcame a two-goal deficit to hold defending champions Delhi Waveriders to a 2-2 draw in a league match of the third Hero Hockey India League (HIL) in Ranchi.
The draw took Rays to seven points from three games. After going down 3-6 to Kalinga Lancers in the tournament opener, the Ashley Jackson-led side defeated Dabang Mumbai 2-1 in their previous match.
The Waveriders, on the other hand, have garnered four points so far, having registered their second consecutive draw in the tournament. The Sardar Singh-led outfit was held on to an identical 2-2 draw by Uttar Pradesh Wizards in their opening match of the season.
Akashdeep Singh's strike in the fourth minute gave Waveriders an early lead before Danish Mujtaba doubled the scoreline in the 27th minute from a penalty corner.
The Waveriders kept up the pressure on the Ranchi defence and earned three penalty corners in quick succession late in the second quarter, the third of which was scored by Mujtaba with a rebound after the home team goalkeeper Lovell Tyler made a great save.
But a minute later, Nick Budgeon (28th) scored with a fierce dragflick from a penalty corner to pull one back for the Rays just at the stroke of halftime.
The Rays came out with more purpose after the change of ends and drew parity five minutes into the third quarter through Mandeep Singh (35th), who guided the ball into the net with a vital deflection from a flick.
The Rays nearly scored another just at the start of the fourth quarter through Jackson, whose dragflick struck the post.
Both the teams pressed hard in search of the winner thereafter but failed to breach each other's backline.
After a rest day tomorrow, the Rays will next host Dabang Mumbai at the same venue here on Wednesday, while the Waveriders will look for their first win when they take on Jaypee Punjab Warriors at their home turf in New Delhi on Friday.
Warriors beat Wizards
Jaypee Punjab Warriors continued their fine form and defeated Uttar Pradesh Wizards 3-2 in a keenly-contested league match to register their second consecutive win of the third Hero Hockey India League in Mohali.
The Warriors scored a goal each in the first three quarters of the match through Varun Kumar (12th minute), SV Sunil (28th) and Sandeep Singh (42nd), while VR Raghunath (7th, 53rd) converted two penalty corners for the visitors.
By virtue of this win, the Warriors have consolidated their position at the top of the standings with 12 points from three games, while the Wizards have garnered three points from two matches.
But the Wizards were the dominant side on display in the opening quarter and took the early lead when Raghunath converted a penalty corner.
The Warriors replied back five minutes later through Varun's penalty corner conversion to end the first quarter locked at one goal apiece.
The Warriors, who were playing before thin home crowd and under biting cold conditions, were slow to get off the blocks.
But they fought hard in the subsequent three quarters. Sunil scored a fine diving backhand goal past Wizards goalkeeper PR Sreejesh to give his side the edge at the halfway mark.
Image: Ranchi Rays and Delhi Waveriders players in action during the Hockey India League