The Hockey India League 2016 is coming to the business end of the competition, and this year with two games of the round robin stage still to be played semi-finals places are still up for grabs.
It has been a very even competition in 2016 with every team capable of beating the others. Home form has been questionable with favourites the UP Wizards only winning their last game at home, and Delhi Waveriders finally winning at home at the fourth attempt.
Much of the talk has been about the move by Hockey India to award two goals for a field goal. In terms of the action on the pitch it has been a huge success with teams looking to score a field goal when possible rather than pushing the ball onto the foot of a defender and winning a penalty corner. When a team is trailing in the last quarter we are seeing them go all out for a field goal to overhaul a one goal deficit, to take the lead and steal the five points for a win. We have seen innovation from the teams in trying to achieve this aim, and the spectators have been the winners.
However it is worth noting that only two games have actually seen the result change due to the two goals for a field goal rule, and both resulted in victories to Dabang Mumbai. They won 7-5 against Ranchi Rays which in traditional scoring would have been a 4-4 draw and also beat UP Wizards 1-2 away, which would have been a 1-1 draw.
The one area that few have looked at is how the two goals for a field goal has affected the league table; as a bonus point is awarded for a team that loses by two goals or less.
As of the time of writing the Ranchi Rays sit top of the table with 27 points and Kalinga Lancers are second on 23 points. With the traditional goal scoring Ranchi would remain in first place.
Where the positions do change is in the next four places. Delhi currently sit 5th on 22 points and an inferior goal difference to the Jaypee Punjab Warriors in 4th, while the UP Wizards are 3rd on 23 points. Without the two goals for a field goal rule, Delhi following their win last night would be up to second place with 25 points,relegating Kalinga to third. The Jaypee Punjab Warriors would actually be above UP Wizards. Dabang Mumbai who are currently bottom and still have a chance to make the semi finals would all but be out of the race with a mere 13 points, eleven points behind fourth spot with 15 points up for grabs.
The actual league table reads: Ranchi Rays 27, Kalinga Lancers 23, UP Wizards 23, Jaypee Punjab Warriors 22, Delhi Waveriders 22 and Dabang Mumbai 19.
With traditional goal scoring the table would read Ranchi Rays 29, Delhi Waveriders 25, Kalinga Lancers 24, Jaypee Punjab Warriors 24, UP Wizards 23, and Dabang Mumbai 13.
So despite many believing the two goals is making its biggest impact on the pitch, it looks as if the impact is greater on the league ladder.