What more Jaypee Punjab Warriors could have done to break their jinx of winning the Hero Hockey India League? It was a case of so near and yet so far for the Barry Dancer-coached Punjab outfit as they were denied a shot at glory by Ranchi Rays in an exhilarating penalty shootout at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium in New Delhi.
Missed chances cost the Punjab WarriorsUnlike the first two editions, the Warriors looked the team to beat in the tournament despite their twin defeats at the hands of Ranchi Rays in the league phase. The Warriors’ two wins over reigning champions Delhi Waveriders in the league phase was a fair indicator of the kind of form they were in. And the script seemed to go their way when the Warriors took the lead through Kieren Govers before the Rays hit back. The Punjab side again regained the lead only to surrender it almost immediately. Clearly, the Warriors had the match in their grasp, and when a team twice takes a lead in a final match only to surrender, probably they did not deserve to win the trophy.
As they say in sport, there is always a next time and Jaypee Punjab Warriors would hopefully takes the positives from their runners-up finish and emerge even stronger in the 2016 edition.