Premier Hockey League: Chandigarh Dynamos favourites


Chandigarh : Orissa Steelers’ 2-0 win over Sher-e-Jallandhar has helped them avoid table toppers Chandigarh Dynamos in the semi-finals of the Premier Hockey League (PHL) to be held on Saturday.

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Steelers, who won their last league game on Thursday, have been fighting to regain their form, but having made the semis they are eyeing the title for a second time in succession.

Steelers became the last team to qualify for semi-finals and they needed a 2-0 margin against Shers Thursday to avoid Dynamos in the last four. They came out with a plan as their defence comprising experienced Dilip Tirkey and South Korean import Kim Chul stood like a rock, thwarting each and every attack by the Shers.

The mid-field combination of William Xalxo and Birendra Lakra also assisted them well and played a crucial role in helping out the defence.

Earlier, Hi-Fliers became the first team to book a semi-final berth defeating Shers 2-1, followed by Dynamos and inaugural edition champions Hyderabad Sultans.

Dynamos, who top the table, will face fourth position holder Sultans in the first semi-final. Steelers will be up against Hi-Fliers in the second semi-final Saturday.

The winners will take on each other in the best of three finals slated for Monday, Wednesday and Friday next week.

Steelers will still find it tough against a much improved and focussed Hi-Fliers side, who slipped to second spot in the table only due to goal difference.

Both Dynamos and Hi-Fliers have 14 points from their six group ties with five wins and one loss under their belt. But Dynamos edged them out on goal difference.

To add to that, the Steelers are not in their best form and looked edgy in their group ties which was visible in their results – three wins and as many losses.

The team to really look out for is local favourites Dynamos who are in their best form, losing their only game in extra time. With the home crowd on their side they might emerge as the new champions of PHL.

Inaugural champions Sultans, on the other hand, have also looked rusty but their form is better than Steelers. They also have 11 points like Steelers, but dropped to the last position on goal difference.

So, Saturday’s semi-finals should provide an interesting day of hockey.

Semi-final line-up: Chandigarh Dynamos vs. Hyderabad Sultans; Orissa Steelers vs. Bangalore Hi-Fliers.