Ranchi: Tournament-favourites Delhi Waveriders beat Punjab Warriors 3-1 in the second semi-final of the Hockey India League (HIL) on Saturday to set up a title showdown with Ranchi Rhinos who got the better of UP Wizards 4-2 in the first semi-final.
Andres Mir Bel, Rupinderpal Singh and Lloyd Norris Jones scored for Delhi while skipper Jamie Dwyer got the only goal for Punjab, who should blame the defeat to six penalty corners (PC) they missed. Delhi, on the other hand, scored from two of the five PCs they earned.
The match got off to a pretty circumspect start, with both the teams hesitating in their attacks. The opening for Delhi was created in the 14th minute when Ignace Tirkey conceded a soft penalty corner. Rupinderpal sold the rusher a dummy and set it up for Andres Mir Bel who slapped it in. Akashdeep Singh could have made it 2-0 four minutes later but was denied by Bharat Chhetri who swapped with Jaap Stockmann throughout the match.
Punjab's first real chance to draw level came in the 29th minute off a scratchy move that ended in Simon Orchard's weak shot at goal being easily saved by Nicolas Jacobi. Delhi, though, didn't miss on doubling the lead when Rupinder's drag flick found its way into the Punjab goal off a deflection from on-rushing Gurmail Singh. But the counter-attack saw Dwyer sounding the board to pull one back. The hit in from the right flank by Dharamvir Singh was intercepted but the ball ricocheted off to Dwyer who turned to get the ball to his right and smash it in.
Second half didn't see any goals to start things off, though both the teams had ample opportunities. Punjab, in particular, suffered from the lack of a quality drag-flicker, which saw them missing two back-to-back PCs in the 56th minute and three in the last 10 minutes.
Things went beyond Punjab's reach in the 68th minute when Jones's reverse hit off a counter-attack made it 3-1 to confirm that tournament's two best teams face off in the summit clash.
Earlier in the day, Ranchi proved a bit too hot for Uttar Pradesh in the first semi-final, where two goals each by Mandeep Singh and Nick Wilson gave the hosts a comfortable 4-2 win.
The game, locked 2-2 until the 64th minute, was played at a fast pace and swung like a pendulum until Mandeep and Wilson scored their second respective goals to settle the issue in favour of Ranchi.
The final will be played here on Sunday at 8 p.m.