Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Jan 22:
The third edition of the Hockey India League trophy was inaugurated by Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik amidst a spectacular laser show, high decibel DJ music, power packed dance performances by celebrities and full throated cheers from the ecstatic crowd at the Kalinga Stadium here this evening.
Actress Perizaad Zorabian was the emcee of the event and unwrapped a laser show which gripped the audience followed by remarkable dance performances of Odisha actors Sabyasachi and Archita.
Following the ceremony, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik unveiled the HIL trophy for which the six participating teams will be clashing against each other over the next one month.
Next up, a dazzling fireworks display adorned the skies for five minutes before home side Kalinga Lancers and Ranchi Rays stepped on to the turf to play the tournament opener.
“For the inauguration of the most prominent hockey league in the world, we have tried and crafted a similarly delightful evening meant for our fans, followers and spectators as well as the participating teams who are all geared to put up some brilliant game of hockey in the imminent month-long league,” HIL chairman Narinder Batra said at the ceremony.
Hosts Kalinga Lancers took on MS Dhoni’s Ranchi Rays in the first match of the marquee tornament and was leading 3-1 as we write this report.
To add to the cheers of crowd, the first goal of the series was scored by Lucas Vila of Kalinga Lancers. Vickram Kanth scored the other two goals for the team.
To keep the youth on tap, the authorities have also launched ‘Official Hockey India’ and ‘HIL’ app for IOS and Android users to keep up with all the action. The matches will also be broadcast live on
The stadium was packed with audience well before 5 PM in the afternoon.
“We are very excited about the series. For the first time, the inaugural match is being conducted in Kalinga Stadium and the home team is taking on a rather strong rival on the first day. We don’t want to miss the opportunity,” said Satya Prakash Rath who was in the stadium with him family.
Many players took to social media to convey their excitement and strategy.
Kalinga Lancers packs quite a punch this year with the addition of a number of new players, including drag flicker Gurjinder Singh, who played a vital role for the national side in the Champions Trophy that was held here last month.
The other new but important faces in the team are Roshan Minz, Pradhan Somanna and goalkeeper Andrew Charter of Australia. The team also boasts of other quality players like Gonzalo Peillat, Lucas Villa, Russel Ford and Lalit Upadhyay. Peillat was the second-highest scorer in the last edition of HIL and has been recently named as the best rising star of 2014 by FIH.
Ranchi Rays are the new franchise from Ranchi after the Ranchi Rhinos quit due to financial reasons late last year. Co-owned by India cricket captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, the team has retained most of the players from Rhinos, including the likes of Ashley Jackson, Barry Middleton, Birendra Lakra, Mandeep Singh and Manpreet Singh.