BHUBANESWAR: Kalinga Lancers‘ misery in the third edition of the Hero Hockey India League found some respite as they posted their first win after six successive defeats and a draw, edging out Dabang Mumbai 2-1 in the 24th match of the tournament here at Kalinga Stadium Hockey Complex on Friday.
Drag-flick expert Gurjinder Singh starred in the victory, converting two penalty corners that the home team won in the keenly-contested clash. His scintillating performance fetched him both the goal of the match and player of the match awards.
However, the win, their second in eight matches, proved to be inconsequential for Lancers, who have already gone out of the race for the semifinals. Led by Vickram Kanth, The hosts salvaged some pride by avenging their 2-1 defeat against the same team in the first leg. The win also enabled them to leapfrog their opponents in the league table.
With this defeat, their fifth in eight matches, Mumbai replaced Lancers at the bottom of the table with 13 points in their kitty. Kalinga Lancers will play their last match against Delhi Waveriders in Delhi on Sunday, while Mumbai meet Punjab Warriors in the last league match of the tournament at Mohali on Feb 19.
Kalinga Lancers survived a scare in the very second minute as their defenders saved a first penalty corner. But dominating the first quarter, the home team took the lead in the 11th minute when Gurjinder converted their first penalty corner with precision. Lancers continued their domination in the second half and Gurjinder put them in a commanding position, converting their second penalty corner in the 20th minute. Lancers had two more opportunities to further swell the lead, but missed. The visitors also missed a scoring opportunity in the second quarter as captain V Vinay failed to tap home a booming cross from Glenn Turner.
After the change of ends, Dabang Mumbai started to find their coordination and rhythm.
Their all-out attack finally bore fruit in the 36th minute when Harmanpreet Singh converted the team’s fourth penalty corner. But the Mumbai’s efforts to level failed to materialize even though were awarded two more penalty corners towards the end.