New Delhi: Delhi Waveriders entered into the semifinal of the Coal India Hockey India League (HIL) despite losing against Ranchi Rays. Delhi advanced on better goal difference at the Shivaji Stadium here on Tuesday.
Ranchi needed to win by a goal difference of more than eight to book a place in semifinals ahead of Delhi.
Ranchi who had 18 points coming into the match as against Delhi’s 23. They found their goals from Manpreet Singh (ninth and 32nd minutes) and Imran Khan (37th). Delhi’s lone goal was scored by Justin Reid-Ross (45th).
With the win, Ranchi (-1 goal difference) finished their league campaign level with Delhi on 23 points. But the latter has a better goal difference that enabled them to reach the knockouts in Chandigarh later in the week.
The win leaves a slender hope for Ranchi as Uttar Pradesh Wizards have 23 points from nine games. With a goal difference of nine Wizards set to face table-toppers Dabang Mumbai in Lucknow on Wednesday.
A heavy loss could change the table even though it looks very unlikely.
Dabang Mumbai (33 points from nine games) and Kalinga Lancers (28 points from 10 games) had already entered semifinals.
Ranchi can take heart from the fact that they finished above the defending champions Jaypee Punjab Warriors in the league phase. Punjab is already out of the race for semi-finals with 22 points.
And on the final day, it needed a top effort from Ranchi to even come close to evading Delhi. They got off to an electrifying start.
Right-back Gurbaj Singh provided plenty of paces as he joined in the attack with veteran Englishman Barry Middleton and German Christopher Ruhr.
After the goal, Harendra Singh-coached Ranchi threw everything at Delhi. Ranchi replaced their goalkeeper with an outfield player but Delhi managed to keep goal difference to four and reach semifinals.