Mumbai Magicians` do-or-die clash against UP Wizards
Mumbai: It`s a make-or-break situation for hosts Mumbai Magicians when they take on another struggling outfit Uttar Pradesh Wizards in their penultimate round-robin game in the Hockey India League, here on Tuesday.
It`s a straight race for the fourth and final semifinal spot between these two teams following the Wizards` 0-3 defeat against high-flying Delhi Waveriders yesterday at Lucknow.
A loss, which would be their 10th, against the Lucknow franchise would end the Magicians` hopes of reaching the semifinals, while a win would keep them afloat with slim hopes of advancing to the last four at the cost of their UP rivals.
While a loss to the Magicians would eliminate them from the four-team competition, a defeat in tomorrow`s match would not end the Wizards` campaign but will only keep them on tenterhooks ahead of the final league games for both.
Currently, Wizards lead Magicians by eight goals (22-14).
But Magicians need to win not only against UP but also their final match against Ranchi Rhinos on February 7 at the MHA Mahindra Stadium and hope Wizards get beaten by Waveriders (also on Thursday) in their game to progress.
The fact that the Magicians thrashed the Wizards 4-0 in their previous meeting, the home team`s lone win in 10 games, should boost their confidence ahead of the do-or-die clash.
Magicians easily put up their best display against the Wizards to win by such a comprehensive margin, and would be aiming for an encore.
The second leg match appears to be a straight penalty corner battle between discarded India stalwart Sandeep Singh and the man who has replaced him in the national team - Wizards captain V R Raghunath.
Sandeep scored a brace while Raghunath drew a blank when the two met here on January 30.
The former leads the goal-getters list with 11 under his belt, six clear of the man who has usurped his place in the Indian team.