Controversial 10-crore baby World Series Hockey completed 28 matches to finish the first leg of the tournament wherein all the teams played 7 matches each. Sher and Badshahs are on top with 13 points each, closely followed by Comets and Strykers. Tournament favorite Marines are pushed to 5th position. 143 goals have been scored and as expected Imran warsi has marched ahead as leading goal scorer with 12 goals.
Popularity among media and officials is less, but the matches are fought closely among the eight teams. No wonder spectators are slowly warming up to see the matches. The eight Squads boast equally talented team with national and international players. The tournament started with a high scoring match that saw 7 goals, followed by the next two high scoring matches. The third match had 12 goals scored in 70 minutes. The format and the involvement of top players in almost all teams promised goal feast. 143 goals in 28 matches indicate more than 5 goals per match.
The penalty-corner specialists have ruled the tournament so far. The top three scorers of the tournament at half-way stage assert their importance. Imran Warsi of Cheetahs leads with 12 goals, followed by 8 goals each from Gurpreet Singh (Strykers) and Gurjinder Singh (Comet). Check complete list of goal scorers.
The tournament had its own favorites too. Mumbai Marines were tipped to be the best team to lift the cap. At half-way they are reeling at 5th position with 3 defeats and a draw, winning 3. Although they are just a win away from the top ranked Sher-e-Punjab and Bhopal Badshahs, but the 3 point difference appears very big considering the close games all the teams are playing where any team is defeating any time, irrespective of reputations.
Sher-E-Punjab and Bhopal Badshahs have lived uopto expectations and lead the pool at equal points. Punjab is on top of the Points Table with better goal difference. Alongwith the top two teams Chandigarh Comets have regisgtered 4 wins out of their first 7 wins, and are placed at third position having lost three.
Pune Strykers have the best result so far, although they were considered the weakest team at the start of the tournament. They have lost only 1, won 3 and drawn 3 and with 12 points are placed at 4th place. Effectively, they have the best chance to finish in the top four at the end of group matches, if they continue to suprise other teams.
Cheetahs with 7 points must be wondering what went wrong. Imran Warsi has scored 12 of their 23 goals. That probably explains their area of improvement. The team is depending almost only on Warsi to score goals. Their defence needs complete overhauling as they have conceded maximum 23 goals so far. Interestingly, they have also scored the highest number of 23 goals so far.
Wizards and Lions appear almost out of the race now. It is not about the points. Few wins can change their fate. But with 4 and 5 losses, respectively, their team does not instill the same confidence as a semifinal contender should.
Tournament Half-Way Facts
- Leader: Sher-E-Punjab with 13 points and +8 Goal difference.
Max wins: 4 each by Punjab, Bhopal and Chandigarh
Golden Boot: Imran Warsi (Cheetahs) with 12 goals
Max Goals Scored: 23 (Cheetahs)
Max Goals Conceded: 23 (Cheetahs)
Max Lost: 5 (Lions)
Max Goals in Match: 12 (7-5 Strykers vs Marines)
Min Goal in Win: 1 (Comets vs Wizards)
Bhopal Badshahs, Sher-E-Punjab and Pune Strykers appers to be the first three semi-finalists. The fight for 4th place is between Comets and Marines. Cheetahs have an outside chance, but their game is very unpredictable to expect consistency. Delhi Wizards and Karnataka Lions are on their way out of the tournament. Before moving to semfinals, every team will play 7 matches more. Winning 5 more games by any teams include the one at bottom will boost their chances.