The Hockey India League is scheduled for kick off today -- and it couldn't have chosen a better time to try and win back some sports fans from cricket.
Indian cricket is experiencing down time with losses starting to mount and legends retiring. The hockey team, on the other hand, is starting to finally get it's act together. In 2012, they managed to qualify for the Olympics -- which considering their failure in 2008 -- was a big achievement. And of late, the performances have got even better.
India reached the semi-finals of the FIH Champions Trophy and also finished top top of their pool. In the Asian Champions Trophy, the team narrowly lost the final and showed that the team is making some good progress under coach Michael Nobbs.
The HIL will allow the sport to attract some good talent. Of course, the skeptics might say that we've seen all this happen before. The Premier Hockey League (PHL) was launched seven years ago but it fell out with the International Hockey Federation (IHF) and also proved to be a financial disaster.
HIL, at least, won't go that way. It is organised by Hockey India. The International Hockey Federation (FIH) has sanctioned the event and also provided a 30-day window at the beginning of next year so that all top players can participate. So in terms of support, it has all it could hope for.
But does that mean people will turn up in droves to watch the HIL?
Format: Home and away system, similar to the NBA and IPL.
Rules: Each team is allowed a total of 24 players, including 14 Indian players and 10 foreign players.
Here is a list of the teams:
Delhi Wave Riders: Sardar Singh (Marquee player), Yuvraj Valmiki, Oskar Deecke, Gurvinder Chandi, Lloyd Norris Jones, Matt Ghodes, Danish Mujtaba, Akashdeep Singh, Md Rizwan Sr., Simon Child, Talwinder Singh, Imran Khan, Gurbaj Singh, Bipin Kirketta, Md Rizwan Jr., Andrea Mir Bel, Rupinder Pal Singh, Rahul Shilpkar, Surender Kumar, Taeke Taekema, Hans Raj, Vikramjit Singh, Nicolas Jacobi, Primin Blaak
Coach: Ajay Kumar Bansal
Total spending: Rs 3.28 crore
Mumbai Magicians: Sandeep Singh (Marquee player), Faisal Saari, Chinglensana Singh, Sarvanjit Singh, Anup Valmiki, Satbir Singh, Glenn Turner, Sanjay Kumar Bir, Mahmood Rashid, Aiyappa MB, Fareed Ahmad, Mohammad Tousiq, Mathew Butturini, Suresh Toppo, Jonny Jasrotia, Joel Caroll, Mathew Swann, Chandan Singh, Gagandeep Singh, Sergi Enrique, Sampath Maylaram, Imran Butt, Thirumala Rao, PR Sreejesh
Coach: Ric Charlesworth
Total spending: Rs 3.21 crore
Punjab Warriors: Jamie Dwyer (Marquee player), SV Sunil, Shivendra Singh, Kieron Govers, Roger Padros, Malak Singh, Sukhdev Singh, Ranjeet Singh, Gaganpreet Singh, Jarmanpreet Singh, Dharamvir Singh, Simon Orchard, Gurmail Singh, Nilakanta Sharma, Gurinder Singh, Rob Hammond, Lucas Rey, Ignace Tirkey, Mark Knowles, Kashif Shah, Christopher Ciriello, Jaap Stockmann, Keshav Dutt, Bharat Chetri
Coach: Barry Dancer
Total spending: Rs 3.48 crore
Ranchi Rhinos: Moritz Fuertse (Marquee player), Mandeep Singh, Stanli Minz, Floris Evers, Prabhdeep Singh, Shafaq Rasool, Nick Wilson, Amon Mirash Tirkey, Vikas Choudhary, Kothajit Singh, Birendra Lakra, Arvind Kujur, Austin Smith, Manpreet Singh, Parvinder Singh, Ashley Jackson, Amit Rohidas, Justin Reid Ross, Sukhmanjit Singh, Mohd. Irfan, Fergus Kavanagh, Sumit Topno, Fransisco Cortes, Sushant Tirkey
Coach: Gregg Clark
Total spending: Rs 3.39 crore
Uttar Pradesh Wizards: Teun De Nooijer (Marquee player), Tushar Khandker, SK Uthappa, Pradhan Somanna, Nitin Thimmaiah, M Gunasekar, PL Thimmanna, Jeroen Hertzberger, Siddharth Shanker, Pardeep Mor, Sander Baart, Eddie Ockenden, David Alegre, Rockey Lohchab, Vivek Dhar, Harjeet Singh, Harbir Singh, VR Raghunath, Luke Doerner, Marcel Balkestein, Joilie Wouter, Sreenivas Rao Katharu, Kumar Subramanian, George Bazeley
Coach: Roelant Oltmans
Total spending: Rs 3.5 crore
Big Foreign stars: Lloyd Norris, Simon Child, Tim Jenniskens, Jap Stockmann, Lucas Ray, Ashley Jackson, Muhammad Irfan, Floris Evers, Austin Smith, Glenn Turner, Imran Butt, Luke Doerner, Rockey Lohhcab, David Alegre, Eddie Ockenden, Sander Baart.
Young Stars to watch out for: Rupinder Pal Singh, Chinglensana Singh, Manpreet Singh and Kothajit
Jan 14: Delhi Waveriders vs Punjab Warriors (Delhi)
Jan 16: Punjab Warriors vs Ranchi Rhinos (Jalandhar); Delhi vs Mumbai Magicians (Delhi)
Jan 17: Punjab vs UP Wizards (Jalandhar)
Jan 18: Ranchi vs Mumbai (Ranchi)
Jan 19: UP vs Delhi (Lucknow)
Jan 20: UP vs Ranchi (Lucknow); Mumbai vs Punjab (Mumbai)
Jan 21: Mumbai vs Delhi (Mumbai)
Jan 22: Punjab vs UP (Jalandhar)
Jan 23: Ranchi vs Delhi (Ranchi)
Jan 24: Ranchi vs UP (Ranchi); Punjab vs Mumbai (Jalandhar)
Jan 26: UP vs Ranchi (Lucknow); Delhi vs Mumbai (Delhi)
Jan 27: UP vs Punjab (Lucknow)
Jan 28: Ranchi vs Mumbai (Ranchi)
Jan 29: Delhi vs Punjab (Delhi)
Jan 30: Mumbai vs UP (Mumbai); Delhi vs Ranchi (Delhi)
Jan 31: Mumbai vs Punjab (Mumbai)
Feb 1: Ranchi vs Delhi (Ranchi)
Feb 2: UP vs Mumbai (Lucknow); Ranchi vs Punjab (Ranchi)
Feb 3: UP vs Delhi (Lucknow)
Feb 4: Punjab vs Ranchi (Jalandhar)
Feb 5: Punjab vs Delhi (Jalandhar); Mumbai vs UP (Mumbai)
Feb 7: Delhi vs UP (Delhi); Mumbai vs Ranchi (Mumbai)
Feb 9: Semifinals (Ranchi)
Feb 10: Final (Ranchi)
All matches will be telecast live on Star Sports