6 players who stole the show during the Hockey India League

Suhrid Barua
Ranchi's Mandeep Singh

New boy in town: Ranchi’s Mandeep Singh

Mandeep Singh: The lean 17-year-old Jalandhar boy was an unknown commodity before the start of the Hero Hockey India League. Yes, he had played for the India junior team but was never a known face. HIL 2013 has ensured that hockey lovers would remember him the most. Emerging as the second top goal-scorer with 10 goals, more importantly helping his side win the league, Mandeep was a constant threat upfront for all the teams. His burst of speed, stick control and ability to anticipate really stood out during the league, prompting the selectors to pick him in the Indian senior team for the Hero World Hockey League Round II as well as for the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup.

Lloyd Norris Jones: The South African striker’s clinical finishing was one of the key reasons for Delhi Waveriders looking so invincible upfront. Jones was playing in a team which had many other talented strikers, but stole a march over all of them with his great sense of opportunism and razor-sharp strikes. His insurance goal against Punjab Warriors in the semifinals was an absolute treat – the best possible example of making the most of a counter-break.

Captain Marvel: Mortiz Fruste

Captain Marvel: Mortiz Fruste

Moritz Fuerste: The German provided the inspirational tonic to Ranchi Rhinos – and it worked well for the Red Machine as they were playing like a well-oiled machine. His precise slap passes upfront and supreme control in the midfield won many Indian hearts. Rhinos would be indebted to him for the way he guided the talented Indian youngsters in their side. He deserves all the praise for bringing out the best of Mandeep Singh, Manpreet Singh, Kothajit Singh and Birendra Lakra.

Jolie Wouter: The Dutch defender was rock-solid throughout the league for UP Wizards – probably one of the reasons why the side looked a difficult citadel to breach. His man-to-man marking, nifty tackles and his strong presence during penalty corners made Wizards really solid at the back. He combined nicely with Indian youngster Harbir Singh, whose form faded after some impressive displays at the start of the league. The manner in which he supported the Wizards’ midfield and even at times played upfront just goes to show the versatility of the 27-year-old, who has made 82 international appearances for Netherlands.

V Raghunath

Jack of all trades: V Raghunath

Vokkaliga Raghunath: The burly drag-flicker had a wonderful HIL slamming 9 goals including a devastating spell of four goals against Punjab Warriors in the play-off match for the third place. Raghunath shouldered the responsibility of captain admirably and always proved a tough nut to crack in defence as well. He deserves credit for galvanizing the Wizards’ side who lost their way and was also in danger of not making the semifinals after their impressive beginning to the league.

Ajay Kumar Bansal: He was the only Indian coach among the five teams taking part in the HIL. Bansal pleased all with the way he got the best of a side, which had too many talented players from different countries besides the talented Indian youngsters. He was the coach with Midas touch – every strategy he adopted worked to a nicety until of course the final where Delhi were looking good to win the crown after they held a 1-0 lead going into the final quarter.

Edited by Staff Editor


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