Ranchi: Delhi Waveriders defeated Jaypee Punjab Warriors in the penalty shoot-out to emerge as the champions in the second edition of Hero Hockey India League at the packed Astroturf Hockey Stadium, here Sunday.
It came as a befitting result for last year`s runners-up Waveriders, who made their second consecutive final of HIL.
The Waveriders beat Warriors 3-1 in the shoot-out after the regulation 70 minutes ended in a 3-3 tie.
Majority of the credit should go to the Waveriders goalie Nicolas Jacobi, who had a brilliant day under the bar and made numerous saves to guide the Delhi side to the title.
Apart from making quite a few saves in the regulation time, Jacobi stood like a rock in the shoot-out to deny Warriors` first three attempts before Robert Hammond scored from the one-on-one situation.
But it was not enough as the Waveriders scored three out of their four chances in the shoot-out to run away with the glittering trophy and Rs 2.5 crore prize purse.
The Warriors took home Rs 1.25 crore, while the last year`s champions Ranchi Rhinos pocketed Rs 75 lakh for finishing third.
Earlier in the day, the Rhinos defeated Uttar Pradesh Wizards too on penalty shoot-out to claim the third place.
The Rhinos defeated UP Wizards 3-2 in the shoot-out after both the teams were locked at 1-1 at regulation time.
Later in the day, the Warriors started on a positive note in the summit clash and took the lead as early as in the opening minute of the match through Mark Knowles` who scored from a field effort.
The Waveriders did not sit back and pressed hard for the equaliser and in the process secured a penalty corner in the eighth minute but Rupinderpal Singh`s try was deflected wide by Lucas Rey.
The Waveriders kept up the pressure on the Warriors` citadel and their efforts bore fruit as they scored two goals in a span of two minutes to go into the breather with a 2-1 lead.
Lloyd Norris Jones first drew parity in the 33rd minute with a fierce forehand strike after receiving a pass from Akashdeep Singh before skipper Sardar Singh (35th) scored from a penalty corner after latching on to a rebound.
It turned out to be an exciting contest after the breather as both the teams relied on attacking, fast-paced hockey to outplay each other.
The Punjab Warriors came up with some impressive forays and made use of the opportunities that came their way.
The Punjab outfit scored two field goals in the third quarter in quick succession to restore their lead.
Shivendra Singh (45th minute) first cleverly deflected in Gurmail Singh cross from the right flank before young striker Affan Yousuf (48th) found himself at the right place inside the circle to restore Warriors` lead.
But Warriors` joy was short-lived as Yuvraj Walmiki drew parity four minutes later with a fierce forehand from inside the circle after receiving a diagonal pass from Andres Mir Bel.
In the final quarter, the Punjab Warriors enjoyed a clear upperhand with a host of defence-splitting run into the rival circle but to no use.
Punjab Warriors consistent raids forced the Waveriders to go into a defensive mode in the final 17-and-a-half minutes of the match.
They were in complete control of the fourth and final quarter but failed to convert their chances into goal.
The Waveriders, on the other hand, relied on counter-attacks but they too failed to trouble the scorers as the match went into shoot-out.
Earlier in the day, the third-fourth place play-off match was a drab affair as both the teams failed to live up to the expectations.
The Rhinos had the first real scoring chance when they earned their first penalty corner but it went a begging.
The Wizards were slow to get off the blocks but made use of the first penalty corner, which was beautifully converted by V R Raghunath in the 15th minute.
The Rhinos, however, drew level in the second quarter through a fine solo field goal from Manpreet Singh in the 30th minute to go into the breather locked at 1-1.
In the second half, both the Rhinos and Warriors made some impressive forays but their efforts failed to materialise into goals.
The Wizards had the best of the opportunity to surge ahead through their second penalty corner of the match in the 68th minute but wasted the chance as both the teams failed to break the deadlock in the regulation 70 minutes.
In the shoot-out, the Rhinos scored from three one-on-one situations while the Wizards could find the back of the net just twice.
We're building him (RvP) up now because of the World Cup. It’s a pity but we have to or he’ll never be fit.
Louis van Gaal