DEFENDING CHAMPION Ranchi Rays beat Delhi Waveriders 2-1 in a Coal India Hockey India League (HIL) match at the Birsa Munda Astro Turf Hockey Stadium in Ranchi on Tuesday.
Ashley Jackson scored twice from penalty corners in the 28th and 31st minutes for the Ranchi, while Delhi found their goal from Rupinder Pal Singh in the 26th minute.
With this win, Ranchi registered their second win in three matches and took their points tally to 11 -- same as table toppers Kalinga Lancers, second placed Jaypee Punjab Warriors and third placed Delhi Waveriders -- but behind on goal difference.
Delhi and Ranchi, both coming from away wins over Uttar Pradesh Wizards, had a quiet start to the match, with both taking time to wait for each other's errors.
Delhi go the first major chance of the match in the sixth minute thanks to a build-up play from Talwinder Singh, who passed the ball from the backline to Mandeep Singh inside the circle, only for Ranchi goalkeeper Tyler Lovell to cut down the space.
After Delhi's first raid, Ranchi too came up with their reply with Trent Mitton moving to the left of Ranchi goalkeeper Devon Manchester. Mitton was denied by a brilliant tackle at the backline by Rupinder Pal Singh.
In a counter-attack, Delhi captain Simon Child passed the ball to Yuvraj Walmiki, whose stick was blocked by Sumit Kumar of Ranchi. Delhi were rewarded with a penalty corner in which Rupinder's flick was stopped by runner Manpreet Singh.
The game heated up in the second quarter, with Ranchi desperate for the equaliser that could have come in the 23rd minute when Imran Khan stole the ball from Tristian White but Mitton was slow in meeting the parallel across from the former.
One minute later, Ranchi's Barry Middleton played to the foot of Rupinder, earning a penalty corner. But Jackson's flick was stopped by the first runner in the form of Vickram Kanth.
Two minutes later, Child earned a penalty corner that was converted by Rupinder after a dummy from South African Justin Reid-Ross.
Prabhdeep Singh made a body check from behind on Middleton, conceding a penalty corner. But Jackson failed to make make the most of it. In the same turnover, Sumit fired from outside the circkle but his hit was met with messy defender, earning the third short corner for the hosts.
And this time Englishman Jackson didn't make any mistake in getting the equaliser in the 28th minute as the two teams headed to the dressing room with the 1-1 scoreline.
Ranchi hardly took a minute after the lemon break to take the lead. Jackson completed his brace with his second conversion of the penalty corner that was earned by India discard Sarvanjit Singh.
Delhi tried hard to fight their way back and almost scored in the 42nd minute. Talwinder found a foot off a rival defender and it earned a penalty corner. Rupinder's grounder sneaked through Lovell but the final stopper Middleton cleared it away, keeping his side's one-goal advantage.
In the fourth quarter, Ranchi held on to their lead and register their second win in three matches.
The goal of the match award of Rs.50,000 went to Rupinder, while veteran Englishman Middleton won the Man-of-the-Match award of Rs.50,000.