DELHI WAVERIDERS DEFEATED Jaypee Punjab Warriors 5-4 to get off to a winning start in the Coal India Hockey India League (HIL) at the Chandigarh Hockey Stadium in Chandigarh on Wednesday.
Waveriders rode on goals from Yuvraj Walmiki and Rupinder Pal Singh, while Mark Pearson scored one. For Warriors, Matt Gohdes, Christopher Ciriello and Mark Gleghorne scored.
Waveriders started on an attacking note, riding on the energy and pace provided by young forwards Mandeep Singh and Talwinder Singh.
Talwinder passed the ball towards Steve Edwards but the latter was slow to react as Mark Knowles cleared the ball for the home side.
Warriors too had their chances when S.V. Sunil's searing drive inside the circle threatened Waveriders but Gleghorne was not up to the task.
In a turnover, Waveriders took the lead in the ninth minute when Mandeep fed Yuvraj from the left and the latter employed a brilliant reverse-hand strike to stun Warriors goalkeeper Tristian Clemons.
The goal received a sparkling response from the hosts. Captain Mark Knowles charged up and passed the ball to Ciriello, who played it to Gohdes. Australian Gohdes' first shot was blocked by goalkeeper Devon Manchester. But Gohdes grabbed the rebound and slotted home to bring his side level on 2-2.
Warriors could have taken the lead but Armaan Qureshi fired inches wide of the post, much to the relief of Waveriders head coach Cedric D'Souza.
As soon as the second quarter began, Delhi continued their impressive play with skipper Simon Child and centre-half Harjeet Singh building good initiatives. Their efforts bore fruit when Rupinder scored off a penalty corner in the 24th minute to make it 3-2.
And four minutes later, Child's strike went up in the air after being halted by Clemons and fell just outside the goal-line, earning a penalty corner. Canadian Pearson lifted the ball in after Rupinder's flick was not fully blocked by Clemons.
Trailing by two goals, Warriors pulled one back with a penalty corner conversion from Ciriello as the scoreline ended 4-3 after the half-time.
Warriors conceded a penalty corner early in the 36th minute. Austrian attacking midfielder Benzamin Stanzi played to the foot of a Warriors defender, earning a penalty corner that was converted by Rupinder as the visitors regained the two-goal advantage.
Warriors hit back with two quick penalty corners but -- on the first occasion, Gurwinder Singh Chandi's push was not trapped properly by Simon Orchard and in the second, Ciriello's flick was too straight to defeat Manchester.
Sardar Singh's brilliant foray into the circle was wasted by Chandi who ran out of space before being cleared off.
Later, Englishman Gleghorne brought down Delhi's lead to one with a successful conversion in the 54th minute.
However, Waveriders managed to hang on to the one-goal lead and won 5-4.