HIL kicks off today

Punjab take on Delhi in opening clash at Mohali

The second edition of the Hero Hockey India League will get underway on Saturday with Jaypee Punjab Warriors taking on Delhi Waveriders in the opening match at the newly-built International Hockey Stadium here under lights.

With the winner taking home a whooping Rs 2.5 crore, and the runner-up getting Rs 1.25 crore, there is a lot at stake for teams to win the tournament and both Punjab and Delhi would aim to begin the tournament on a winning note.

In the previous edition of the HIL, the two teams faced each other in the semifinal, in which Delhi defeated Punjab 3-1. However, Delhi Waveriders finished runners-up, losing the final to title winners Ranchi Rhinos.

In the bronze medal match, Punjab Warriors lost 4-3 in dramatic fashion to Uttar Pradesh Wizards, after leading 3-0.

Punjab Warriors have a good mix of young and experienced players. Their overseas squad comprises primarily Australian players, with captain Jamie Dwyer being the leader.

With Dutch goalkeeper Jaap Stockmann and experienced players like Ignace Tirkey and Mark Knowles in their ranks, Punjab boasts of a strong defensive line-up. Also, the strong presence of Dwyer in the midfield will allow Punjab to revolve their play around the experienced captain.

Punjab’s forwardline consists of players like Shivendra Singh, SV Sunil, Dharamvir Singh and a youngster Affan Yousuf, who possess the ability to torment any opposition’s defence. With the highly experienced Barry Dancer and Jagbir Singh in their think-tank, Punjab will have strategies in place before the first game.

The highest goal-scorer of the 2013 edition of HIL, Sandeep Singh, was added to the Punjab Warrior’s squad during the auction last year.

A fine penalty-corner specialist with loads of experience, Sandeep Singh is surely the player to watch out for not only in the first game, but the entire tournament.

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