Defending Champions Ranchi Rays and Kalinga Lancers would look to outwit each other and continue their winning streak when they face each other in a round robin match of the fourth Hockey India League, here today.
Ranchi Rays begun their campaign on home turf on a winning note by defeating Delhi Waveriders 2-1.
But their opponents, Kalinga Lancers too 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.
The upcoming clash between the two Eastern giants will be an encounter that hockey lovers from across the country will be eagerly waiting for.
Ranchi Rays began their journey in the fourth HIL with a loss against Jaypee Punjab Warriors, but the title holders raised their game thereafter and defeated 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, Jackson is currently placed second in the goal scorers list.
Ranchi Rays encounter against Kalinga Lancers tomorrow 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.
Speaking about tomorrow’s clash, Ranchi Rays head coach Harendra Singh 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 by 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 ongoing HIL on a similar note, 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 ongoing HIL.
Kalinga Lancers with 11 points to their kitty currently share the lead in the point’s tally of the HIL along with Ranchi Rays, Jaypee Punjab Warriors and Delhi Waveriders.
Moritz Fuerste has led from the front and 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 Fuerste, captain of Kalinga Lancers.