Show set to kick off sans stars

Hockey World Series: Chandigarh Comets take on Bhopal Badshahs as ambitious venture takes off

Minus almost all the players who helped India qualify for the London Olympics, the inaugural World Series Hockey (WSH) will begin here on Wednesday.

Chandigarh Comets take on Bhopal Badshahs, to have been led by Sardar Singh, in the inaugural match, and coaches of both the teams lamented that the ‘stand-off’ between Hockey India and the Indian Hockey Federation was not helping the cause of the players and the sport.

Addressing separate news conferences on Tuesday evening at the Sector 42 hockey stadium here, coaches of the two teams said players were mature enough and they must take their own call to participate or not in the WSH.

Comets’ coach Harendra Singh said he had tried to talk to his players PR Sreejesh, Sarvanjit Singh and Birendra Lakra, but so far had received no reply from them regarding their participation.

“The India players have not reported to the camp yet. Bringing players is not in my domain. I will proceed with whatever I have and that’s my job as a coach,” he said.
Harendra tried to put up a brave front when asked if it would take the sheen away from the tournament when star players will be missing.

“I will still like to take positives out of it. It will help bring to light some new talent, which in the long run will be good for Indian hockey,” he said, adding that despite the controversies, ‘the show must go on’.

Asked about skipper Rehan Butt, who leds Chandigarh Comets, Harendra claimed he will be reaching here on Wednesday from Pakistan, but his participation also remains doubtful considering the tournament is starting on Wednesday itself.
Bhopal Badshahs coach V Baskaran said he was not sure about the participation of players including star India players Sardar and Shivendra Singh.

Bhaskaran claimed that just a month back, Sports Minister Ajay Maken had given him and 30 other Olympians, who had a meeting with him, assurance that no training camp will be kept during the WSH, which had already been postponed in December in light of the Olympic qualifiers. “But what is happening now is completely the opposite,” Bhaskaran said.

Nimbus Sport COO Yannick Colaco, meanwhile, assured the participation of the India players and said: “Players have taken a break after their good show at the qualifiers but they have personally confirmed to me that they will participate in the WHS.”

Both coaches maintained that the participation of key Indian players would have only helped the cause of the players and teams as WSH would have provided them the ideal platform before the London Olympics. “It would have been a wonderful opportunity for everyone.

After the Olympic qualifiers, it would have given the right signal and further helped promote the game,” Harendra said. “Who is most important -- it is the players. Let the show go on. If two warring factions sit together and sort out the issues, it will be good for the sport.”

WSH fixtures

Feb 29: Chandigarh Comets vs Bhopal Badshahs (Chandigarh, 8.30 pm).
March 1: Sher-E-Punjab vs Chennai Cheetahs (Jalandhar, 7 pm), Mumbai Marines vs Pune Strykers (Mumbai, 9 pm).
March 2: Delhi Wizards vs Karnataka Lions (Delhi, 7.00 pm), Mumbai Marines vs Bhopal Badshahs (Mumbai, 9 pm).
March 3: Sher-E-Punjab vs Karnataka Lions (Jalandhar, 5 pm), Chandigarh Comets vs Chennai Cheetahs (Chandigarh, 7 pm); Delhi Wizards vs Pune Strykers (Delhi, 9 pm).
March 4: Sher-E-Punjab vs Pune Strykers (Jalandhar, 7 pm), Mumbai Marines vs Chandigarh Comets (Mumbai, 9 pm).
March 5: Karnataka Lions vs Bhopal Badshahs (Bangalore, 7 pm), Delhi Wizards vs Chennai Cheetahs (Delhi, 9 pm).
March 6: Chennai Cheetahs vs Mumbai Marines (Chennai, 7 pm), Karnataka Lions vs Chandigarh Comets (Bangalore, 9 pm).
March 7: Sher-E-Punjab vs Delhi Wizards (Jalandhar, 7 pm), Pune Strykers vs Bhopal Badshahs (Pune, 9 pm).
March 8: Chandigarh Comets vs She-E-Punjab (Chandigarh, 7 pm), Karnataka Lions vs Mumbai Marines (Bangalore, 9 pm).
March 9: Chennai Cheetahs vs Pune Strykers (Chennai, 7 pm); Bhopal Badshahs vs Delhi Wizards (Bhopal, 9 pm).
March 10: Chennai Cheetahs vs Karnataka Lions (Chennai, 7 pm), Bhopal Badshahs vs Sher-E-Punjab (Bhopal, 9 pm).
March 11: Pune vs Chandigarh Comets (Pune, 7 pm); Mumbai vs Delhi Wizards (Mumbai, 9 pm).
March 12: Pune Strykers vs Karnataka Lions (Pune, 7 pm), Bhopal Badshahs vs Chennai Cheetahs (Bhopal, 9 pm).
March 14: Mumbai Marines vs Sher-E-Punjab (Mumbai, 7 pm), Delhi Wizards vs Chandigarh (Delhi, 9 pm).
March 15: Pune Strykers vs Chennai Cheetahs (Pune, 7 pm), Delhi Wizards vs Bhopal Badshahs (Delhi, 9 pm).
March 16: Sher-E-Punjab vs Chandigarh Comets (Jalandhar, 7 pm), Mumbai Marines vs Karnataka Lions (Mumbai, 9 pm).
March 17: Sher-E-Punjab vs Bhopal Badshahs (Jalandhar, 7 pm), Karnataka Lions vs Chennai Cheetahs (Bangalore, 9 pm).
March 19: Chandigarh Comets vs Pune Strykers (Chandigarh,  7 pm), Delhi Wizards vs Mumbai Marines (Delhi, 9 pm).
March 20: Chandigarh Comets vs Delhi Wizards (Chandigarh, 7 pm), Chennai Cheetahs vs Bhopal Badshahs (Chennai, 9 pm).
March 21: Sher-E-Punjab vs Mumbai Marines (Jalandhar, 7 pm); Karnataka Lions vs Pune Strykers (Bangalore, 9 pm).
March 23: Pune Strykers vs Mumbai Marines (Pune, 7 pm), Karnataka Lions vs Sher-E-Punjab (Bangalore, 9 pm).
March 24: Bhopal Badshahs vs Chandigarh Comets (Bhopal, 7 pm), Karnataka Lions vs Delhi Wizards (Bangalore, 9 pm).
March 25: Chennai Cheetahs vs Sher-E-Punjab (Chennai, 7 pm), Bhopal Badshahs vs Mumbai Marines (Bhopal, 9 pm).
March 26: Chennai Cheetahs vs Chandigarh Comets (Chennai, 7 pm), Pune Strykers vs Delhi Wizards (Pune, 9 pm).
March 27: Pune Strykers vs Sher-E-Punjab (Pune, 9 pm), Bhopal Badshahs vs Karnataka Lions (Bhopal, 9 pm).
March 28: Chandigarh Comets vs Mumbai Marines (Chandigarh, 7 pm), Chennai Cheetahs vs Delhi Wizards (Chennai, 9 pm).
March 29: Chandigarh Comets vs Karnataka Lions (Chandigarh, 7 pm), Bhopal Badshahs vs Pune Strykers (Bhopal, 9 pm).
March 30: Delhi Wizards vs Sher-E-Punjab (Delhi, 7 pm), Mumbai Marines vs Chennai Cheetahs (Mumbai, 9 pm).
April 1: Semifinal 1 (6 pm), Semifinal 2 (8.30 pm).
April 2: Final (8 pm).

WSH format

* Teams participating: Bhopal Badshahs, Chandigarh Comets, Chennai Cheetahs, Delhi Wizards, Karnataka Lions, Mumbai Marines, Pune Strykers, Sher-E-Punjab.
* The teams will play each other on home-and-away basis with the top four at the end of the league qualifying for the semis.
* A match will consist of a regulation time of four periods of 17-1/2 minutes each, separated by an interval of three minutes at quarter and three-quarter time, and of 10 minutes at half-time.

Each team will be awarded one unsuccessful video referral which will be restricted to within the 23-metre areas.

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