Ranchi: Defending Champions Ranchi Rays have begun their campaign on home turf on a winning note defeating Delhi Waveriders 2-1. However their next opponents, the Kalinga Lancers have been equally successful both on their home turf and on away games. Their latest being in Lucknow where they overcame the strong Uttar Pradesh Wizards 10-2. This clash between the two Eastern giants in the Coal India Hockey India League will be a match that hockey lovers from across the country will be eagerly waiting for.
Ranchi Rays began their journey in the 4th edition of the Coal India Hockey India League with a loss against Jaypee Punjab Warriors, but the defending champions raised their game thereafter and defeating Uttar Pradesh Wizards in Lucknow and Delhi Waveriders in Ranchi yesterday. Their Captain Ashley Jackson, who has been a part of the squad ever since their inception has shown his consistency year after year and even in this edition he has been the highest goal scorer for the team. With five goal to his name from three matches Ashley is currently placed second in the highest goal scorers list for the league in the 4th edition of the Coal India Hockey India League.
Their encounter against Kalinga Lancers on Thursday is expected to be one of the most awaited encounters in the league, especially when Jharkhand and Orissa are known to have given many star players to the National Squad for many years now. Some of the other key players to watch out for in the squad will be star drag flicker Sandeep Singh, Simranjeet Singh, Kothajit Singh, Manpreet Singh and Birendra Lakra amongst the Indians while Barry Middleton, Fergus Kavanagh and Tyler Lovell will add to the international strength for the Defending Champions.
Harendra Singh, Head Coach, Ranchi Rays said, “It’s going to be a good contest. Both the teams like to play attacking hockey. The crowd is playing the biggest role for the home team which is charging up the players to give their best. We believe the crowd will continue their support as always and the boys will have to control their emotions and play their basic game.”
Kalinga Lancers also began their campaign in the 4th Coal India Hockey India League in a similar way losing their first home match to Uttar Pradesh Wizards, but they came back strongly to defeat Dabang Mumbai in their second encounter and overcame Uttar Pradesh Wizards 10-2 in their first away encounter in Lucknow. Glen Turner has turned around their scoring capacities this year scoring a total of 10 goals for the team. He also leads the goal scorers list so far in the 4th Edition of the Coal India Hockey India League.
Kalinga Lancers with 11 points to their kitty currently share the lead in the point’s tally of the 4th Coal India Hockey India League along with Ranchi Rays, Jaypee Punjab Warriors and Delhi Waveriders. Moritz Fuerste has led his Captain from the front and Glen Turner, Aran Zalewski, Adam Dixon and Andrew Charter add to the team’s international strength, while Devindar Walmiki, Dipsan Tirkey, SK Utthappa, Stanli Minz, Amit Rohidas and Pradeep Mor add to the Indian talent in the team.
“We are fortunate to have a beautiful mix of players in the team with experienced international players and some very talented Indian players. It’s been this mix that has helped us so far and we are confident that it’s this mix only which will help us see through for the rest of the league. It’s a big match tomorrow but we want to play our regular game and give the spectators a good game of hockey,” said Moritz Fuerste, Captain, Kalinga Lancers.
Ranchi Rays will face Kalinga Lancers tomorrow in the 4th Coal India Hockey India League at the Astro Turf Hockey Stadium, Ranchi. 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.