Struggling Mumbai face confident Ranchi Rhinos
Ranchi: From shifting base to losing their tournament-opener, nothing has gone in their favour so far but Mumbai Magicians would look to bring their campaign back on track when they clash with hosts Ranchi Rhinos in a Hockey India League match, here on Friday.
Having lost the opener 1-2 against to Delhi Waveriders, Magicians have now travelled to Ranchi, leaving them with very less time to prepare for Friday`s game.
The Ranchi will be full of confidence after handing Punjab Warriors their second successive defeat in an away game.
Rhinos, who have invested a lot in local talent, defended extremely well towards the end stages of the game on Wednesday, and the team management would love to see a similar performance from the backline against Magicians.
Magicians were dominated in the first three quarters of the match by Waveriders and the team think tank would like to see them to be a bit more aggressive at the start.
They made a match out of it in the final quarter, and, perhaps, there is some clue as to how Magicians would like to play in the future games.
They almost sealed a draw on Wednesday, before Sandeep Singh`s penalty stroke in the last minute hit the cross-bar. Such a loss can take a lot out of a team psychologically and Magicians and Singh in particular, would need to forget Wednesday’s experience as soon as possible.
Rhinos were quite solid in their game against Warriors, but couldn’t keep possession of the ball for long periods. Like their Friday’s opponents Magicians, Rhinos also started quite cautiously on Wednesday.
Both the teams` preparations would also involve the travelling factor, having played in Jalandhar on Wednesday. But then, playing at home has its own advantages, and Rhinos would be keen to exploit them.
Their English recruit Ashley Jackson was on target through a drag-flick on Wednesday, and he would be one guy that the Magicians would need to be wary of.
For Magicians, star striker Sandeep Singh finding form in the opener is good news. His last minute missed penalty stroke not standing, Singh looked dangerous against Waveriders, and managed to score his team’s only goal.
It could be quite an interesting battle between the Magicians frontline, led by Sandeep Singh, against the solid and strong defense of Ranchi Rhinos.
"It has been a herculean task to handle players from different countries, but we have managed to break the ice and have come together as a team. It’s been fun all along and we seem to be doing quite well for ourselves in this tournament. We look forward to our games and are confident in our performance," Rhonos Coach Gregg Clark said.