Exuberant Delhi Waveriders face up against Punjab Warriors in HIL
Punjab's Sardar Singh gears up for an interesting clash against his former team
Delhi Waveriders will look to start from scratch as they play their opening match of the Coal India Hockey India League (HIL) against Jaypee Punjab Warriors at the International Hockey Stadium, on Wednesday.
Waveriders – one of the most successful sides with a runners-up finish in 2013, a championship in 2014 and a third-place finish in 2015 – have made several changes to their squad which according to head coach Cedric D’ Souza is ‘full of young energy’.
“We are a strong and vibrant team full of young energy. Our focus will be on fine-tuning the dynamism of the team members and work towards coordinated efforts so that we play as a unit,” D'Souza said while releasing the team's jersey.
He added, “All teams are evenly balanced and we can expect some high-octane action in the 2016 Coal India Hockey India League.”
The team is captained by seasoned New Zealand striker Simon Child while Indian drag-flicker Rupinder Pal Singh has been named vice-captain.
The forward line also features Yuvraj Walmiki, 22-year-old Indian international Talwinder Singh and 18-year-old Mandeep Singh who was acquired for $70,000 and could be the one to watch to out for.
Rupinder fetched a price of $68,000 and is one of the key players who has been with the side, since the first edition. Rupinder will have the support of Vickram Kanth who will look to impress the national selectors for a comeback.
Another young star who will be interesting to watch is Indian junior team captain Harjeet Singh. Harjeet has shown a lot of promise as a central midfielder in India's Under-21 side and his performance in the HIL will be a crucial denominator of his pedigree.
Waveriders also retained defender Steven Edwards and Australian defender/midfielder Tristian White. The other key foreign players are Canadian Mark Pearson, Austrian Benjamin Stanzl, Iain Lewers from England and South African Justin Reid-Ross.
The addition of New Zealand goalkeeper Devon Manchester will give an extra edge to the team. He was purchased for $27,000 against a base price of $15,000 and India's Harjot Singh will be his competitor for a place in the team.
On Tuesday, Waveriders announced TVS Tyres, Ricoh, Devils Circuit, Prayag, DMR, Shiv Naresh, Dainik Jagran, HIT 95 FM and BLK Super Specialty Hospital as their partners.
In the Warriors' camp, Waveriders will have to battle against Sardar Singh who was with them for the first three years. Warriors will face Ranchi Rays in their opening encounter.