Prior to the Hockey India League (HIL) auctions on Thursday in New Delhi, the talk was all about India's captain Sardar Singh and Australian Jamie Dwyer, who were expected to go for huge amount. But it was Moritz Fuerste -- signed up by Kalinga Lancers for a whopping $105,000 -- who stole the show. Fuerste's price tag of $105,000 also makes him the first player to cross the $100,000 mark in the HIL.
Amongst the Indian players, it was national team's forward Akashdeep Singh, who was the costliest as Uttar Pradesh Wizards signed him for $84,000. With the introduction of the new ruling for the next edition of the HIL, which will see field goals being awarded as two goals, the forwards were in huge demand.
As a result of this, there was fierce bidding for Akashdeep amongst other forwards. Another forward, Gurwinder Singh Chandi was signed by Jaypee Punjab Warriors for $75,000. With such money thrown on strikers, they will be under huge pressure to score goals.
The Wizards conducted some smart business as they were also able to get one of the hottest players in world hockey – Dwyer -- for $57,000.
Punjab Warriors signed the skillful midfielder Sardar for $58,000. Sandeep Singh, who is regarded as one of the best drag-flickers in India, was sold to Warriors as well for $81,000.
With plenty of Indian players in the mix, teams had done their homework well enough as they went for proven players, who have been consistent for India.
Hence it was no surprise when Nikkin Thimmaiah went to Dabang Mumbai for $67,000, while Delhi attained Mandeep Singh for $70,000 and Rupinder Pal Singh for $68,000.
In such auctions, what is very interesting is the way teams strategize and the manner in which they use their money. Some might say, money cannot buy you experience, but such actions prove it otherwise, as teams were looking for some experienced heads in the auction as well to blend in with some young players in their respective teams.
Experienced players from Australia, such as Mathew Swann (Dabang Mumbai ) and Simon Orchard (Jaypee Punjab Warriors) were testimonial to the tactical 'experienced' approach.
However, Delhi Waveriders seem to have got a great steal in the form of another Australian, drag-flicker and forward Kieron Govers, who only cost $36,000.
With teams having signed players of their choice, hockey fans will be eager to witness their teams in action during the fourth edition of the HIL next year.