Mumbai beat Delhi to enter HIL final for first time

Chandigarh, Feb 25 (IANS) Maiden semi-finalists Dabang Mumbai extended their sensational campaign in the Coal India Hockey India League (HIL) by eliminating former champions Delhi Waveriders 2-0 in a last four battle here on Saturday.

Robert Kemperman’s back-hand strike in the 26th minute separated the two sides as Mumbai set up a title clash against Kalinga Lancers, who earlier in the day overcame Uttar Pradesh Wizards.

Delhi’s Iain Lewers missed a penalty stroke incurred from field play at the Chandigarh Hockey Stadium.

Both sides’ custodians, David Harte of Mumbai and Vincent Vanasch of New Zealand also put up good show but in the end the Irishman emerged the winner.

The match between Delhi and Mumbai underwent a quiet period as the former, with their strong defensive structure, limited the game to the midfield. Barring a penalty corner chance which was missed by Delhi, the first quarter was slow.

The match sprung into life in the second quarter and Mandeep Singh could have made it 2-0 early when a base-line cross from Justin Reid-Ross caught Mumbai defence and goalkeeper out of place. But Mandeep failed to trap it.

Mumbai’s high pressing helped them open up the game and they broke the deadlock when a penalty corner was turned into a field goal opportunity. Dutch midfielder Kemperman came up with a brilliant back-hander to the right low corner to stun Delhi defence in the 26th minute.

Delhi responded very quickly by earning a penalty stroke in the following minute when Mandeep Singh was tripped inside the ‘D’. But Iain Lewers wad denied by Harte, the 2015 and 2016 World Goalkeeper of the Year.

Following the turnover, Mumbai earned a penalty corner but Reid-Ross was alert to deny Harmanpreet Singh’s flick.

Muumbai continued their push and earned a penalty corner with just two minutes after the half-time but Harmanpreet was not on the money.

Delhi came close to equalise twice but Harte kept them at bay. The capital outfit earned two penalty corners but beating Harte proved to be difficult.

At the other end, Harmanpreet had another chance with a penalty corner but he dragged it wide as Vanasch kept Delhi in the hunt.

Mumbai put plenty of pressure on Delhi’s backline and their way of playing out from the back also took a beating. Gurjant Singh intersected one poor pass from Rupinder and passed to the left into the circle to Johan Bjorkman, whose deflection hit the right side bar. The post denied Affan Yousuf as well as Delhi witneseed some tormenting spell of time.

These two actions then were translated into penalty corner opportunities but Jeremy Hayward and Harmanpreet couldn’t make most of them.

Delhi earned another penalty corner towards the end but it couldn’t happen as Delhi, lost their second successive semi-final.

–IANS

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