Resurgent Mumbai take on inconsistent Punjab in key game
Mumbai : Resurgent Dabang Mumbai will take on an inconsistent Jaypee Punjab Warriors in a crucial Hockey India League game which, if won by the hosts, will see them leapfrog to the second position.
Mumbai return home after halting their four-match losing streak at the MHA Mahindra Stadium here against formidable Ranchi Rays on February 3 with a thrilling 7-5 victory in a do-or-die encounter.
That victory has galvanised the Jay Stacy-coached team as they went on to down Uttar Pradesh Wizards 2-1 and then trounced Delhi Wave Riders 8-3, their most emphatic win of the season, in their previous two games.
The confidence built by the string of three straight wins after four losses would stand them in good stead against the Sardar Singh-spearheaded Punjab.
Mumbai have relied more on field goals, that count as double in this tournament, as their penalty corner conversion has been woeful with only one goal each coming from this set-piece via the sticks of Harmanpreet Singh and Diwakar Ram.
They certainly would like to get better in this aspect though they have shown good poaching instincts from the field, mainly exhibited by their German striker Florian Fuchs.
The home team’s defense, which has been quite good so far, will be tested severely by the Punjab frontline which has S V Sunil, Gurwinder Chandi, Nitin Thimmiah and Armaan Quereshi to bank upon, from among the host country players.
Jake Whetton of Australia and Satbir Singh have scored two field goals apiece and they would be carefully monitored by the Mumbai defense.
The area in which the Barry Dancer-coach Punjab distinctly holds a slight edge is in the penalty corner department where Australia’s specialist Christopher Cierello leads with three goals to his credit.
However, the team’s performance has been up and down, with a win followed by a loss which has given them a 50:50 win-loss record going into their ninth and penultimate league game, with a clash against Kalinga Lancers to follow at home on February 15.