Indian stars add flavour to HIL 2016

The big names of Indian hockey will be seen hitting the field in the fourth edition of Hockey India League (HIL), which is to be held across six different venues in the country from January 18 to February 21.

In this file photo, Sardar Singh tussle for ball with S. V. Sunil during a Hero Hockey India League Match.   -  R. V. Moorthy

The big names of Indian hockey will be seen hitting the field in the fourth edition of Hockey India League (HIL), which is to be held across six different venues in the country from January 18 to February 21.

Two-time finalists Jaypee Punjab Warriors have retained some of their key players in the auctions held last year and one of the most prominent Indian stars among them is S. V. Sunil.

Sunil was a part of the Hockey World League bronze medal winning Indian team. He has 174 international caps and 56 international goals. The 26-year-old was retained for a sum of USD 50,000.

India captain Sardar Singh, who moved from Delhi Waveriders to Jaypee Punjab Warriors, will be another key player to watch out for. The star midfielder has lead the national team to many famous victories and has an experience of 236 international caps with 14 international goals to his credit. He was bagged a price of USD 58,000 in the auction.

Drag-flicker V. R. Raghunath will be another Indian player looking to shine in the upcoming tournament. He will turn out for Uttar Pradesh Wizards and has an impressive record of 203 international caps and 127 international goals to his credit.

Ever-dependable and hard working Birendra Lakra will be a key player for defending champions Ranchi Rays. The 25-year-old defender has 123 international caps and nine international goals to his credit till date.

Lakra was retained by the franchise for a sum of USD 55,000 and alongside Fergus Kavanagh from Australia, he will be looking to put of the similar robust at the backline for Ranchi Rays.

India vice-captain and goalkeeper P R Sreejesh will be guarding the goal of Uttar Pradesh Wizards and will be a force to reckon with in this edition of HIL. Sreejesh is amongst the top goalkeepers in the world today and performed admirably at the Hockey World League Finals in December. The combination of Raghunath and Sreejesh can be lethal in the defence and will be one of the biggest assets for the Uttar Pradesh Wizards.

The six franchises battling for supremacy in the richest field hockey league in the world are Jaypee Punjab Warriors, Delhi Waveriders, Kalinga Lancers, Uttar Pradesh Wizards, Dabang Mumbai and defending champions Ranchi Rays.