Sunday, January 17, 2016

Hockey India League Team Preview: Jaypee Punjab Warriors



Finalist of last two editions of Hockey India League, Jaypee Punjab Warriors will be hoping to strike gold this time around when they begin their campaign on January 19th. The addition of Indian hockey captain Sardar Singh will surely boost the morale of Punjab Warriors team who have always come short in the finals of the tournament. Let us take a look how ready the team is for this year’s tournament: 

COACH
Jaypee Group owned Punjab Warriors have stuck with Australian Barry Dancer who has been with the team since the first edition of the tournament in 2012. After struggling in the early first edition of the tournament, Barry Dancer has really done well with
the team playing the Australian style of physical attacking hockey. Jagbir Singh who has coached Indian in the past will be the assistant coach of the team.

TEAM
Just like the previous editions of the tournament the core of Jaypee Punjab Warriors this time around is Australian players with team management retaining Mark Knowles, Chris Ciriello and Jake Whetton among the foreign players while SV Sunil, Satbir Singh and Varun Kumar were the Indian players who were retained before the auctions. Addition of Indian captain Sardar Singh during the auctions will surely provide some good strength and creativity in the midfield to the team. Along with Sardar Singh, Jaypee Punjab Warriors also signed Gurvinder Singh Chandi who has done well with Delhi WaveRiders in the previous additions. Mark Gleghorne and Simon Orchard are also the other big name players bought by the team in the auctions.

STRENGTHS
This season everyone eyes is on the new goal scoring rule in which one field goal will count as two on the scoreboard. Jaypee Punjab Warriors have done well by adding some good strikers and midfielders in the team. Jaypee needed a leader in the midfield and in Sardar Singh and Simon Orchard, Jaypee Warriors have done great job in getting the players who are all about attack. The defense of Mark Knowles and Chris Ciriello was always well known and keeping the star duo together will surely prove to be a boon for Punjab.

WEAKNESS
While the team has done well with the getting good outfield players they have come short in the goalkeeping department. In the earlier editions of the tournament, Punjab had the services of Jaap Stockmann and Bharat Chetri but this time around Punjab could only manage the service of Jugraj Singh (no experience for India- junior or seniors) and Tristan Clemons who has just featured 18 times for Australian team, last coming in 2013. The goalkeeping might turn out to be Achilles heel for Jaypee Punjab Warriors which the opponents would surely want to exploit.

PREDICTION
Jaypee Warriors have always been strong on paper but they have never been able to go the distance despite dazzling in the earlier rounds of the tournaments. This team is stronger than the teams before and if the team’s goalkeepers are able to decent jobs between the pipes, the team will surely be able to reach the finals once again. 

KEY PLAYERS
Jaypee Punjab Warriors have been blessed with some good players but the key for them will be the midfield duo of Sardar Singh and Simon Orchard. Both Sardar and Simon are known for their intelligent hockey. With weak goalkeeping, the midfield will have to keep the ball away from its defenders so the performance of Sardar Singh and Simon Orchard will be very important for Punjab Warriors.

GROUND
Jaypee Punjab Warriors have shifted their home ground from International Hockey Stadium in Mohali to Sports Complex in Sector 42 of Chandigarh.

Jaypee Punjab Warriors will play their opening match against Ranchi Rays on January 19.


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