18 January, Bhubaneswar
The Uttar Pradesh Wizards on Monday defeated host team Kalinga Lancers by 8-6 points in the inaugural match of Coal India Hockey India League 2016 at Kalinga Stadium here.
In a nail biting finish, champion striker Akashdeep Singh of UP Wizards clinched the match in the final seconds.
While both the teams began their match with some attacking shorts, Wizards’ Wouter Jolie scored the first goal of the league by smashing a hit direct to the goal post, opening his team’s account.
Kenny Bain doubled the lead with another field goal.
However, the hosts earned a goal from the hand of Pardeep Mor, who pulled one field goal back for the hosts with a clever scoop over the goalie. Prior to that, the Lancers had also earned a penalty corner, but failed to capitalise it as the goal keeper of Wizards stood like a wall blocking the striker’s bid.
During the end of first quarter, three field goals were produced by both the teams while Wizards led.
Not staying behind their opponent, the host team drew the scores level before the second quarter’s end with an intelligent deflected field goal by Glenn Turner.
The first half goal fest came to a close with four field goals being scored. Both the teams earned four points each before the end of the first half.
Continuing playing attacking shorts, Turner produced another field goal giving a lead to the hosts and enhancing the confidence of their players to continue in attacking mode and building pressure on the visitors.
But, the Wizards were never to be bullied. In the last quarter, they earned a penalty corner but failed to convert the opportunity into a goal as the striker did not find the gap to make it to the goal post. The Wizards also managed to get a penalty stroke, but the striker could not make it to the goalpost.
But, they had a goal fest in the last minutes of the match.
In a dramatic turn, the Wizards levelled the score when Eddie Ockenden smashed the ball past the goal keeper. And, magic continued in the last minute when their champion striker Akashdeep Singh astonished the audience by scoring a field goal just before the end of match to clinch the match.
The Coal India Hockey India League 2016 on Monday kick started with some scintillating performances by Ollywood actors Sabyasachi, Archita and their troupe. With the dance performances of the two actors over some Bollywood and Ollywood numbers, the audience cheered them by waving flags of host team Kalinga Lancers.
Crackers were burst to mark the inauguration of the match.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik unveiled the trophy in the presence of Industry Minister Debi Prasad Mishra, Sports Minister Sudam Marandi and other dignitaries.