Top international hockey players such as Moritz Fuerste, Jamie Dwyer, along with the big names of India hockey like Sardar Singh, VR Raghunath, Akashdeep Singh will be seen in action for their respective teams in the fourth edition of the Hockey India League, which starts on Monday.
The last three editions of the tournament were major successes, and the fourth edition promises to be an even more entertaining affair with the organisers coming in with some creative methods to keep the interest going. They have adopted a new rule for HIL 2016, whereby every field goal will be counted two to the score. Such new rules make it interesting as teams can win matches even when they are a goal down in the dying minutes of the game.
The fourth edition of the HIL, which will witness six teams -- Ranchi Rays, Punjab Warriors, Delhi Waveriders, UP Wizards, Dabang Mumbai and Kalinga Lancers -- compete for the prestigious title, is going to be an important tournament, as players will be keen to find some rhythm and form ahead of the Rio Olympics, slated for later this year.
Most of the foreign players representing different teams are key players for their national side, like Dwyer (Australia), Tobias Hauke and Fuerste (both Germany). The competition also provides a chance for youngsters from India to impress and come into reckoning for a place in the national team.
All the six participating teams in the competition were involved in some fierce bidding for players during the HIL auctions in September last year. Kalinga Lancers bought Fuerste for a whopping $105,000, which also made the German international the first player in HIL to cross the $100,000 mark. As far as India players were concerned, the Wizards bought Akashdeep for $84,000. With the new rule in place, teams were keen to add quality strikers, who could slot in those precious field goals.
However, there were some surprises during the auction as well. Sardar and Dwyer, who were two of the biggest names in the auction, did not attract huge deals as the Indian was bagged for $58,000 and the Australian for $57,000 by the Warriors and Wizards respectively.
HIL 2016 teams - Ranchi Rays (defending champions), UP Wizards, Dabang Mumbai, Punjab Warriors, Delhi Waveriders and Kalinga Lancers
Venues: Bhubaneshwar, Ranchi, Mumbai, Lucknow, Chandigarh and Delhi
TV listings: Star Sports 2/HD (English) and Star Sports 3/HD (Hindi)
Prize money - Rs 2.5 crore (Winners) and Rs 1.75 crore (Runners-up)
18January - Kalinga Lancers vs Uttar Pradesh Wizards
19 January - Jaypee Punjab Warriors vs Ranchi Rays
20 January - Jaypee Punjab Warriors vs Delhi Waveriders
21 January -Kalinga Lancers vs Dabang Mumbai
22 January -Uttar Pradesh Wizards vs Ranchi Rays
23 January -Uttar Pradesh Wizards vs Delhi Waveriders
24 January -Jaypee Punjab Warriors vs Dabang Mumbai
25 January -Uttar Pradesh Wizards vs Kalinga Lancers
26 January -Ranchi Rays vs Delhi Waveriders
28 January -Ranchi Rays vs Kalinga Lancers
29 January -Dabang Mumbai vs Delhi Waveriders
30 January -Ranchi Rays vs Jaypee Punjab Warriors
31 January - Dabang Mumbai vs Kalinga Lancers
1 February - Delhi Waveriders vs Uttar Pradesh Wizards
2 February â€“ Delhi Waveriders vs Jaypee Punjab Warriors
3 February â€“ Dabang Mumbai vs Ranchi Rays
4 February â€“ Jaypee Punjab Warriors vs Uttar Pradesh Wizards
5 February â€“ Kalinga Lancers vs Delhi Waveriders
6 February â€“ Uttar Pradesh Wizards vs Dabang Mumbai
7 February â€“ Kalinga Lancers vs Jaypee Punjab Warriors
8 February â€“ Kalinga Lancers vs Ranchi Rays
9 February â€“ Delhi Waveriders vs Dabang Mumbai
10 February â€“ Uttar Pradesh Wizards vs Jaypee Punjab Warriors
11 February â€“ Delhi Waveriders vs Ranchi Rays
12 February â€“ Dabang Mumbai vs Jaypee Punjab Warriors
13 February â€“ Ranchi Rays vs Uttar Pradesh Wizards
14 February â€“ Ranchi Rays vs Dabang Mumbai
15 February â€“ Jaypee Punjab Warriors vs Kalinga Lancers
16 February â€“ Dabang Mumbai vs Uttar Pradesh Wizards
17 February â€“ Delhi Waveriders vs Kalinga Lancers
All round robin matches at 6pm IST
20 February â€“ 1st Semi Final (3pm IST)
20 February â€“ 2nd Semi Final (5:30pm IST)
21 February â€“ Third Place Playoff (3pm IST)
21 February â€“ Final (5:30pm IST)