On Sunday, the Astroturf Hockey Stadium in Ranchi saw one of the most exciting hockey matches played in the 2014 Hockey India League tournament so far. In this fitting final, Delhi Waveriders defeated Punjab Warriors via a penalty shoot-out to emerge champions.
The 70 minutes ended in 3-3 tie that took the two finalists to a nail-biting shootout which ended 3-1 in Delhi's favour. Nicolas Jacobi of the Waveriders stood strong at the net to save three goals when it mattered the most. Punjab's Robert Hammond was the only Punjab player to score in the tie-breaker.
Delhi have made it to the finals for two consecutive years now, being the runner's up last year and winners this time. The trophy and a total prize money of Rs. 2.5 crore is what they take back home for their scintillating performance throughout the tournament. Punjab Warriors too won't return empty handed as they received Rs. 1.5 crore for their effort.
The teams went into halftime with the Waveriders leading 2-1. In the third quarter, Shivendra Singh and Affan Yousuf scored one each for Punjab while Delhi went on to level scores when Yuvraj Walmiki did the trick. There were no goals scored thereafter which took the teams to a final shoot-out.
"A very close match today, for us it was to go all out but also keep our patience in place. We will enjoy the win and gear up for the next tournament," said a satisfied skipper Sardar Singh on Sunday night.
"This platform gives us the opportunity to play with the world's best players and even gives budding talents to showcase their talent. I am hoping that with such initiatives Indian hockey will go to newer heights."
Jaypee Punjab Warriors coach Barry Dancer was expectedly disappointed with the defeat. "The team played very well today and we dominated the match for a long period of time," he said. "We somehow were not as aggressive as the opponents today. Though this was the best game of the tournament and I am proud of this team."
Delhi's head coach Cedric D'Souza was delighted to win the title after falling in the final hurdle last season. "We lost the finals last year and this time we were filled with fire and the urge to win," D'Souza said. "We had a hard match today, but we planned and executed our strategy well. It is time to enjoy the victory."