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Gurbaj, Ruhr emerge top buys in HIL auction

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New Delhi, Nov 16 (IANS) Seasoned midfielder Gurbaj Singh and German forward Christopher Ruhr on Wednesday emerged as the most expensive players in the closed bid process for the Coal India Hockey India League (HIL), with Ranchi Rays spending $99,000 and $75,000 on them respectively.

Among other notable foreign recruits, the Netherlands skipper and current World Player of the Year Robert van der Horst was bought by Jaypee Punjab Warriors for $43,000, Dutch forward Seve Van Ass went to Uttar Pradesh Wizards for $39,000 while Australian midfielder Tom Craig was secured by Kalinga Lancers for $67,000.

Dutch midfield pair of Billy Bakker and Sander Baart went to Lancers and Wizards for $31,000 and $35,000 respectively.

Many of the franchises chose to invest in the youth with 18-year-old defender Hardik Singh emerging the most expensive of the signings amongst the youngsters, picked by Warriors for $39,000.

Promising midfielder Shamsher Singh and forward Ajay Yadav went to Wizards for $2,600 each while India's Under-17 Asia Cup winning captain Nilam Sanjeep Xess was secured by Kalinga Lancers for $3,000.

According to the rules, all teams operated with a $725,000 cap on the purse. Having retained their squad for a significantly lesser amount, Ranchi Rays and Jaypee Punjab Warriors had a larger purse available for the bidding process.

Most teams had largely fixed on their 20-member squads, although UP Wizards went into the auction with 15 members of their squad fixed, leaving space for five new players (three domestic, two foreign) to be added from the closed bid.

Among the players available in the closed bid were Indian goalkeeper Sushant Tirkey, Netherlands internationals Jaap Stockmann, Mink van der Weerden and Olympic gold medallist Lucas Rossi.

Talking about the auction process, newly-elected FIH President and HIL chairman Narinder Dhruv Batra said: "I would first like to emphasise the importance of the HIL in contributing to Indian hockey's rise in the rankings. The professionalism of the league is commendable and all credit for this must go to the franchises themselves, who have conducted their work in a manner that is a source of inspiration for world hockey."

"In regard to the closed bid, I'm happy to see that keeping with the trend, even this year, the process has been more rewarding to the players, and the teams have consistently looked to bid way higher than their base prices. It goes to show how valuable and talented each of the players are, and subsequently how tightly contested and closely knit the league is now."

--IANS

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