Ranchi Rays skipper Ashley Jackson named best player of 2015 Hockey India League
New Delhi, Feb 22 (IANS)
Ranchi Rays skipper Ashley Jackson, who led his team to the Hero Hockey India League (HIL) title, was also named player of the tournament, while Dabang Mumbai's young drag-flicker Harmanpreet Singh was declared most promising player. Rays defeated Jaypee Punjab Warriors 3-2 via penalty shootout in the final at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium here Sunday.
With this win, the city of Ranchi has got two HIL titles as the now-defunct Ranchi Rhinos had won the inaugural title in 2013.
Many members of the Rhinos played for Rays, which was co-owned by Indian cricket captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Sahara group.
Rays got Rs.2.5 crore for winning the title, while Warriors got richer by Rs.1.25 crore for finishing second.
Englishman Jackson, who was also a member of the Rhinos, doubled up as the drag-flicker and striker for Rays. The 27-year-old scored 12 goals - highest in the tournament -- and also was responsible for setting up several field goals for his teammates.
Jackson, who was in contention for the 2014 World Player of the Year, was a picture of confidence, energy, athleticism and grit. More importantly, his activity when he was not in possession of the ball helped the Harendra Singh-coached side.
He never allowed his team's defence to be aloof when opponents counter-attacked them.
"It has been very satisfying phase for me. We were tired after yesterday's (Saturday) semifinal and we showed a lot of character today (Sunday) against a very good side," Jackson said.
"The team showed a lot of character as we fought our way back (from a goal down). This victory has been very rewarding for the team."
Praising Jackson, Harendra Singh said the captain is a true leader.
"He is very calm, composed and competitive that makes him a very good team-man. He never shies away from responsibilities," he said.
The coach also heaped praise on defender Fergus Kavangh and Barry Middleton.
The 31-year-old Middlton of England got the goal of the final award, while Rays goalkeeper Tyler Lovell bagged the Man-of-the-Match award.
"Kavanagh may not have won any individual award, but he was the rock of our defence. He commands a lot of respect from the team for that. Also, Middleton played a big role in forming the spirit and structure of the team."
Among other awards, Uttar Pradesh Wizards goalkeeper P.R.Sreejesh got the motivator of the tournament award for his calming presence under the bar.
Wizards were rewarded for playing the game fair and square.