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A new innings for hockey

The much-awaited Hockey India League (HIL) will finally take off today when home team Delhi Waveriders take on Jaypee Punjab Warriors in the opener at the Major Dhyan Chand Stadium here. Both teams will look to starting the tournament with a win.

The home team have an excellent composition led by skipper and playmaker Sardar Singh. The midfielder will be helped by Kiwi forward Simon Child, Danish Mujtaba and Gurvinder Singh Chandi.


India captain Sardar Singh will be the key for Delhi Waveriders. Pic/Getty Images

Yuvraj Walmiki, 23, hailing from Mumbai, would also like to open his account right at the beginning of the tournament.

However, the Waveriders are on the backfoot when it comes to defending as they lack experience. Nevertheless, the field will be rotated as the substitutes are brought in.

The home team also suffered a huge blow on Thursday as it was announced that their star defender and legendary drag-flicker Taeke Taekema of the Netherlands was ruled out of the tournament due to a back injury. It will be down to head coach Ajay Bansal to decide who takes strike during the crucial penalty corners.

On the other hand, the visitors will be led by ace striker Jamie Dwyer of Australia.

India’s Shivendra Singh and S.V. Sunil will be floating from the front to the midfield which is their usual job in the national squad as well.

The Warriors pose a strong midfield with 26-year-old Simon Orchard and Rob Hammond of Australia.

Veteran Ignace Tirkey, Mark Knowles of Australia and Kashif Shah of Pakistan will guard the back in front of likely goalie Bharat Chetri.

Windfall for players

Hockey India League yesterday announced massive cash prizes for various categories like:
 
>> Player of the Tournament: Rs 25 lakh
 
>> Upcoming Player of the Tournament: Rs 20 lakh
 
>> Best goal (all matches): Rs 25,000
 
>> Man of the Match: Rs 25,000
 
To make the league more interesting, a special prize was announced for the spectators also. Five spectators will be chosen from the match and will be given a chance to participate in a penalty shoot-out against the goalkeeper of the home team during the break to win the Golden Goal Award of Rs 10,000 each.

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