Jaypee Punjab Warriors were today crowned Hockey India League champions as they clinched their maiden title after thrashing Kalinga Lancers 6-1 in a lop-sided summit clash here on Sunday.
The Punjab-based side were third time lucky as they had finished runners-up in the last two editions. They lost to Delhi Waveriders in 2014 and to Ranchi Rays last year.
The Warriors, who had finished second in the round-robin league phase, totally dominated the final match of the fourth edition of the tournament at the Astroturf Hockey Stadium here.
They led 2-1 at the end of the second quarter but pumped in two field strikes — with each field goal counting as two — in the final two quarters to take the game away from the reach of Kalinga Lancers.
Armaan Qureshi (4th minute), Matt Gohdes (39th) and Satbir Singh (42nd) found the target for Punjab Warriors while captain Moritz Fuerste scored the consolation goal for Kalinga Lancers in the 24th minute.
The Warriors’ forward line was too good to handle for the Lancers who had to defend their citadel for most part of the final two quarters.
The match started on an attacking note as Kalinga Lancers were straightaway put under pressure by a series of attacks from Jaypee Punjab Warriors.
The Warriors struck early in the game through a field goal in the fourth through talented youngster Armaan Qureshi to take a 2-0 lead. This was followed by Kalinga Lancers launching some good attacks but the Warriors’ defenders stood upto their reputation denying their opponents any opportunity to score. The first quarter came to an end with the Warriors leading 2-0.
The second quarter began with Kalinga Lancers launching successive attacks on the Warriors but were unsuccessful in converting any opportunity to their favour. The Warriors showcased impeccable defence but the Lancers finally broke the deadlock in the 24th minute through a penalty corner conversion by captain Moritz Fuerste. The Warriors led 2-1 at the end of the second quarter.
The third quarter began with the Warriors keen to extend their lead. Their consecutive attacks on the Lancers goal finally yielded results through back-to-back field goals in the 39th and 42nd minutes through Matt Ghodes and Satbir Singh respectively.
With the Warriors leading 6-1, the pressure was on the Lancers to bring themselves into the game. But the Warriors’ defenders were in no mood to let go off their lead in the match.
The Warriors created some good moves on the counter but the Lancers were successful in foiling all their attempts to score any further.
Earlier in the day, Delhi Waveriders got the better of defending champions Ranchi Rays 2-0 in the bronze medal play-off match to finish third.
The Warriors walked away with a winners cheque of Rs 2.50 crores alongwith the winner’s trophy.
Jharkhand Chief Minister Raghubar Das presented the winner’s trophy to Jaypee Punjab Warriors captain Sardar Singh and Mark Knowles.
Kalinga Lancers pocketed a cheque of Rs 1.25 crores for finishing as runners-up.
The Player of the Tournament Award of Rs 50 lakh was awarded to Rupinder Pal Singh of Delhi Waveriders.
Mark Knowles of the Warriors walked away with the Man of the Match Award, which carried Rs 50,000. The Goal of the Match award of Rs 50,000 was awarded to Armaan Qureshi of the Warriors.
The Emerging Player of the Match award of Rs 25,000 was awarded also to Armaan Qureshi.
The Dhruv Batra Maximum Goals award of Rs 20 lakh was awarded to Kalinga Lancers’ Glenn Turner. The Ponty Chadha Upcoming Player of the Tournament award of Rs 20 lakh went to Sumit of Ranchi Rays.