Jalandhar: Having lost their all four league matches, Mumbai Magicians faces a do-or-die battle as they prepare to take on Punjab Warriors in their fifth encounter of the Hockey India League (HIL) at the Surjit Singh stadium here on Thursday. The Ric Charlesworth-coached side has failed to open their account and desperately seek inspiration from whichever quarter they can, to turn around their fortune in the inaugural edition of the league.
Failing to settle down quickly, the team exposed its defensive frailties to the opposition which they exploited to their best. The team lost the final stretch of their encounter against Delhi Waveriders as they went down 4-6 after leading the game 4-3, with their defence completely at loss once the opposition stepped up the pace of their attack.
However, the return of ace penalty corner specialist Sandeep Singh is the area where the Magicians can take solace. The former India skipper was in his element against the Waveriders and scored a hat-trick to partially redeem him after having missed a penalty stroke against the same opponent in their opening match of the tournament in Delhi.
They suffered similar reversal on their home turf as Punjab took advantage of Mumbai's failure to maintain their composure, scoring first victory after three straight loses. In their last encounter, the Warriors were held to a draw by Uttar Pradesh Wizards and they would need to regain their scoring touch in order to keep the Magicians at bay.
Ahead of their match against Punjab Warriors, Mumbai Magicians skipper Sandeep said, "We have devised some new strategies for this match and plan to implement them.
"The team has improved considerably from where we started off and is really pepped up to play against the Punjab team. I am confident that the team will put up a good show against the home team."
Expressing satisfaction at the team's performance, Barry Dancer, coach Punjab Warriors said, "The last two games have been very satisfying and I am very pleased with the improvement shown by the team after every game. We are a different side now and a tough opponent to beat in this league. We won our last game against Magicians in Mumbai and would, therefore, have the psychological advantage over them before tomorrow's match," he added.