Ranchi, Feb 1: Indian forward S.V. Sunil scored twice as defending champions Jaypee Punjab Warriors handed Ranchi Rays a 7-0 thrashing to mark their first win of the Coal India Hockey India League (HIL) 2017 at the AstroTurf Hockey Stadium here on Wednesday.
Sunil successfully finished two brilliant counter-attacks in the 26th and 34th minute after Mink van der Weerden’s pelty corner conversion in the 25th minute had given the visitors a lead at a venue where they have never won against the hosts.
Jake Whetton swept home in the 43rd goal to make it 7-0 as Punjab bounced back in style from their ignominious 4-10 opening match defeat to Dabang Mumbai last Friday.
Ranchi missed the speed and guile of $75,000 German forward Christopher Ruhr, who was ruled out for the match due to injury.
Punjab’s speedy forwards made a huge difference in the match, producing quality counter-attacking hockey.
After a dull first quarter, the match saw several intense moments in the second quarter. It was Ranchi who seemed to take the initiative by getting two pelty corners after Manpreet Singh was brought down by Satbir Singh. But with British set-piece specialist Ashley Jackson in the sidelines, Trent Mitton couldn’t convert.
Punjab too got two pelty corners and in the second one, Dutchman van der Weerden rocketed one to the right corner to mark his debut goal in HIL.
Punjab soon made it 3-0 when a counter-attack saw Jake Whetton set the ball on the path of Sunil and the latter ran for around 25 yards before driving the ball past an onrushing goalkeeper Tyler Lovell.
After the change of ends, Punjab continued to domite Ranchi and in the 34th minute, Sunil scored second of the night to make it 5-0. Sardar Singh’s back-hand cross from the right at the goal was given a half-hearted touch by Sunil before breaching an ictive home defence.
There was no stopping Punjab as they found another field goal in the 43rd minute, with an unmarked Australian forward Whetton sweeping home a Satbir cross from the right.
Trailing by seven goals, Ranchi did their best getting two pelty corners in the fil quarter but Jackson was uble to beat visiting goalkeeper Tristian Clemons.
Despite being 7-0 up and all the damage done, Punjab didn’t relent and continued to pile the pressure on Ranchi, who had a harrowing outing.
With this win, Punjab jumped to the fifth spot with five points, while Ranchi remained third with 10 points from five games.
Mumbai are on top with 17 points from five matches, while Kalinga Lancers are second with 15 points from five games. Uttar Pradesh Wizards, with six points from two matches, are fourth. Delhi Waveriders are sixth with four points from three matches.
Mumbai meet Ranchi here on Thursday. (IANS)