The fifth edition of the Hockey India League (HIL), a tournament organised by Hockey India (HI), is all set to kick off on Saturday, 21 January with the opening clash between Dabang Mumbai and Ranchi Rays at the former's backyard. The popular league will see some of the biggest names in hockey competing in matches all over the country.
The tournament, which is considered the richest hockey league in the world, will take place for a little over a month, with the knock-out clashes and the final set to take place on the 25 and 26 February respectively, with six sides battling it out for the top honours.
Jaypee Punjab Warriors, who lifted the title last year after beating Ranchi Rays in the summit clash, begin their title defence against Dabang Mumbai on 27 January at the the Mahindra Hockey Stadium in Mumbai.
Veteran Indian mid-fielder Gurbaj Singh was the most expensive buy in the HIL auctions held in November last year. Gurbaj, who has been out of national reckoning due to disciplinary issues for quite some time now, fetched a whopping $99,000 (Rs 67.28 lakh) in a bid by the Ranchi Rays. The 2015 champions also made the highest bid for a foreign player, picking German forward Christopher Ruhr up for $75,000 (Rs 50.96 lakh).
Some of the other players to watch out for in the tournament are Sardar Singh (Jaypee Punjab Warriors), Florian Fuchs (Dabang Mumbai), Nikkin Thimmaiah (Dabang Mumbai), PR Sreejesh and VR Raghunath (Uttar Pradesh Wizards).
Among the many developments in the build-up to the tournament is that of Dabang Mumbai joining hands with Hockey Australia to promote the sport at the grassroots level in the city with a programme named ‘Hookin2Hockey'. The programme will cover modules like ‘Coach the coaches sessions', ‘Training sessions for juniors (12-16 years), ‘Grassroot programme for U-12' which will be followed by a ‘Round robin tournament' on the last day.
Here's the full schedule of the league.
Where to watch:
The HIL can be viewed with English commentary on Star Sports 2 and HD 2. For Hindi commentary, one simply has to tune in to Star Sports 3 and HD 3.
In the event one does not have a television around, one can simply log into Hotstar.com, the official website of the Star Sports network. Smartphone owners have the additional option of downloading the Hotstar app, available on both Android as well as on iOS.
With inputs from IANS
Updated Date: Jan 18, 2017 14:29 PM