This year’s edition of the Hockey India League, or ‘HIL’, will be played between 25th January and 23rd of February. The winner will get a heavy amount of 2.5 crore rupees. The runner up will get half of it and the third-placed team will get 75 lakh.
The best player of the tournament will pocket 25 lakh, top scorer 10 lakh and best young talent 20 lakh rupees. After each match, the Man of the Match will receive a cheque of 25,000 rupees.
This edition will feature 6 franchises from 6 cities. Let’s have a look at all of them:
Punjab Warriors seem to have the best squad. The team is led by three-time World Hockey Player of the Year Jamie Dwyer. The team is full of Australian players, with Christopher Ciriello, Mark Knowles, Simon Orchard and Rob Hammond also present here. Coach Barry Dancer will likely find it easy to get the best out of these players. Advisor Jagbir Singh seems to be the hidden weapon of the team, while tall Dutch Jaap Stockman will be under the bar. PC specialist Sandeep Singh (top scorer with 11 goals in the previous edition) will try to impress the national selectors for the World Cup.
2013 winners Ranchi Rhinos will be without the services of their captain Moritz Fuerste for the first two matches. English talents Ashley Jackson and Barry Middleton are other foreign stars in the team. GK Francisco Cortes of Spain has a lot of experience. Three of India’s best players – Mandeep, Manpreet and Kothajit – are also here. National junior team coach Gregg Clark will surely be looking for the title. The final, semifinals and 3rd place playoff matches will be played on the smallest stadium of the edition, the home ground of the Rhinos, which will likely be a major booster for the team.
Delhi Waveriders paid highest amount of money for an Indian player, Sardar Singh. As captain, he has pocketed $78,000. Cedric D’souza is the only Indian coach in all the franchises. In 2013 Delhi finished as the runners up. This year, advisor Ajit Pal Singh is very optimistic about the team winning the trophy. Other star players are Nicolas Jacobi (Germany) as the goalkeeper, and Simon Child and Stevan Edwards (both from New Zealand) in the forward line. Rupinder Pal Singh will be the drag flicker of the team. Danish Mujtaba, Akashdeeep and Yuvraj Walmiki are the other big purchases made by the owners.
Uttar Pradesh Wizards
The Uttar Pradesh Wizards team is owned by the Sahara Group. Roelant Oltmans is the main coach and Dhanraj Pillai is assisting him as Technical Director. The team has a lot of foreign players in key positions. Tech De Nooijier (Netherlands), David Alegre (Spain), Luke Doerner (Australia) and Kumar Subramanium (Malaysia) are a few of those. V R Raghunath, the captain with 148 international matches of experience, will try to convert each PC the team earns. Tushar Khandekar and Luke Doerner will try to prove that they are not spent forces.
Mumbai Magicians could win only one match in the previous edition. The main reason of their poor performance was the plight of Pakistani players due to political controversy, upon whom the team was heavily dependent. Owners Dabur group had kept faith in Ric Charlsworth. Goalkeeper Sreejesh and drag flicker Gurjinder are the top Indian purchases. Adam Dixon and Trent Mitton will attack upfront. In the midfield they have the hugely experienced Australians, Glen Turner and Matthew Butturini. The team is balanced and is ready to prove their true place in the table.
Kalinga Lancers are the new kids on the block. The team has appointed a CEO for its improvement. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik will personally supervise the proceedings. He wants to place Odisha on the world hockey map and this could be his launch pad. The team will play home matches in a relatively small stadium with capacity of 6,000 people at Bhubaneswar. Lukas Villa (Argentina), Russell Ford (Australia) and Ryan Archibald (New Zealand) will be the main pullers of the Kalinga rath. Terry Walsh as main coach and crowd favourite Dilip Tirkey as his advisor will provide the traction for the relatively young squad.
Due to World Cup in May-June this year, many top players have opted out of this edition. German coach Markus Weiss and Dutch coach Paul van Ass have openly shown their reluctance in releasing the players. 24 Aussies are playing in the league. On the other hand, no player from Belgium and Korea are here. Pakistani players are not playing due to off the field reasons.
But underneath it all there is a hope that this will be a rousing, exciting event. For now, all we can say is – ‘Chak de!’Published 23 Jan 2014, 15:08 IST