Ranchi: The 4th Coal India Hockey India League which has entered its last phase saw the four semi-finalists train hard ahead of their semi-final clash at the Astro Turf hockey stadium, Ranchi. The top four teams from the league stage which have made their way into the semi-finals after a hard fought battle in the group stage are defending champions Ranchi Rays (37 points), Jaypee Punjab Warriors (29 points), Delhi Waveriders (27 points) and Kalinga Lancers (25 points).
The first semi-final clash between 2014 Champions Delhi Waveriders and two time finalists Jaypee Punjab Warriors will be played from 15.00 hrs onwards at the Astro Turf Hockey Stadium, Ranchi. Defending champions Ranchi Rays will go head to head with the first time semi finalists Kalinga Lancers in the second semi–final from 17.30 Hrs onwards tomorrow, 20th February, 2016 at the same venue.
Ranchi Rays have shown phenomenal strength and performance in this league so far. The defending Champions booked their Semi-Final berth winning seven matches and losing just three. With 37 points and sitting atop the points tally of the 4th Coal India Hockey India League. Ranchi Rays have remain unbeaten on home turf so far and will look forward to extend their winning run.
“We are taking one match at a time and our focus for now is on the Semi-Finals. We have played well so far and we intend to continue playing the same way and not complicate things. This is the final phase of the tournament and irrespective of who the opponent is, the team with strong nerves and higher conversion will make it to the Final on Sunday 21st February 2016,” said Harendra Singh, Coach, Ranchi Rays.
First time Semi- Finalists Kalinga Lancers are the only other team apart from Ranchi Rays who have seen ups and down at regular intervals in the tournament so far. The Lancers this year have played some spectacular hockey enroute to the Semi-Finals with four wins, one draw and five losses this season. The Lancers who have been relatively weak in penalty corner conversions have however the distinction of scoring the highest number of field goals (17) in the tournament so far. A lot will however ride on the scoring capacity of their star forward Glenn Turner who has scored 15 goals so far the highest by any player this season of the 4th Coal India Hockey India League.
Mark Hager, Coach, Kalinga Lancers said, “We have made a few experiments with the team composition in the league stage and the boys are still getting used to it. We are definitely excited to make it to the Semi-Finals for the first time, and we are hopeful of playing good hockey tomorrow.”
Delhi Waveriders has been one of the most exciting as well as unpredictable team this year. Delhi who started strongly with consistent performances in the initial matches saw a huge dip in their performance on their home ground but the team regrouped at the right time to emerge victorious in the crucial encounters against Ranchi Rays and Kalinga Lancers, securing their place in the Semi-Finals that will be played tomorrow in Ranchi. Defender Rupinder Pal Singh and goalkeeper Devon Manchester’s form will be a big boost for the team in the Semi-Finals tomorrow.
“The Semi-Finals are going to be tough tomorrow. Our opponents have a strong team but we also have our advantages. We are confident of playing good hockey tomorrow, and hopefully make it to the last two in the league,” said Cedric D’souza, Coach, Delhi Waveriders.
Jaypee Warriors Punjab who have been in the Semi – Finals for the previous three editions of the league will look forward to their fourth Semi-Final encounter tomorrow against Delhi Waveriders. Punjab who finished second in the points tally with 29 points will look forward to make it to the last two basis their strong defense and an all-round performance that they have displayed in the tournament so far.
Barry Dancer, Head Coach, Jaypee Punjab Warriors said, “The Semi Finals is more about which team has the hunger to win, which team is more committed towards their team members and which team has the concentration. We have seen team lose their direction in the match because of lack of discipline. As long as we are able to play consistently I will be more than happy.”
Hockey lovers in Ranchi who have been eagerly awaiting the semi-finals and final clash can buy the tickets at a minimal price of INR 200 and INR 300 respectively for both the days from select locations in the city and also purchase online from www.ticketgenie.in .
The six team annual franchise based hockey league, the flagship event of Hockey India - the apex body governing the sport in the country and sanctioned by the International Hockey Federation (FIH) is being played across six venues in India from 18th January - 21st February 2016.