CHANDIGARH: The long wait has ended and the City Beautiful is all set to host the second edition of the Premier Hockey League, starting here from Thursday. The floodlights have been installed and the Sector 42 Hockey Stadium has been all braced up to greet the players — from within the country and abroad — for the mega show that focuses on reviving the lost glory of the national game, in which India once enjoyed an unbridled hegemony for decades.
The Chandigarh edition of the PHL has come up with some thrilling changes with respect to the rules, and the introduction of the third umpire for the first time will only add fizz to the whole affair. Besides the third umpire and the microphones for ground umpires, Tier I in PHL will have a ‘Best of Three Finals’, unlike last year where the winner was decided after a round-robin league. And to make sure that the event becomes a crowd puller, which is the ultimate aim of the organisers, due care has been taken to play all the Tier I matches at 7 pm.
Another feature that will make this hockey extravaganza special will be the introduction of as many as 12 cameras. The television coverage has gone one step further and will ensure that viewers feel a part of the action sitting at home.
Coming to the action, defending champions Hyderabad Sultans will take on Maratha Warriors in the inaugural match on Thursday. The Sultans, under Dilip Tirkey, will surely miss the player who was their powerhouse in the first edition: Pakistan superstar Sohail Abbas. However, Jorge Lombi as a replacement for the ace drag flicker is equally capable of turning the match in his team’s favour, and much will depend on his performance.
Salman Akbar is another man who will play a crucial part in the Sultans’ fortunes as his role under the bar along with Tirkey’s deep defence could thwart any attack from the rivals. Though they don’t have any big names on the forward line up, a combined effort could see the team through even under adverse conditions.
But Maratha Warriors too seem to be upbeat under commander Viren Rasquinha, who could easily bank on the expertise of veteran Dhanraj Pillai and the exuberance of Pakistan youngster Adnan Zakir.
SOURCE:THE TIMES OF INDIA