Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Jan 7:
The Indian members of the Kalinga Lancers’ team arrived in Odisha capital today where the inaugural match will be played on January 18.
The Indian players SK Uthappa, Malak Singh, Dharamvir Singh, Pradeep Mor, AK Pandey, Gurjindar Singh and Lalit Kumar Upadhyay arrived here today. Earlier yesterday, Dipsan Tirkey, Ananda Lakra, Amit Rohidas and Stalin Victor Minz reached here. Coach Mark William Hager is expected to arrive in the city on Friday; the overseas players are likely to reach on January 12.
While the opening match of the fourth edition of Coal India Hockey India League will be played in Bhubaneswar on January 18, Ranchi will host the semi-finals and final (February 21) for the third time in four years.
On the inaugural day, Kalinga Lancers will take on Uttar Pradesh Wizards.
The six franchises battling for supremacy in the richest field hockey league in the world are Chandigarh-based Jaypee Punjab Warriors, Delhi Waveriders, Kalinga Lancers, Lucknow-based Uttar Pradesh Wizards, Dabang Mumbai and defending champions Ranchi Rays.
The opening match of the tournament will be played between the Kalinga Lancers, who made the biggest buy of the season at S105,000 of German Moritz Fuerste and Uttar Pradesh Wizards, who were able to draft in the young Indian forward Akashdeep Singh for $84,000. The match will be staged at the Kalinga Stadium on January 18.
The time of the matches during the league phase has been kept at a comfortable time for the audience at 6.00 PM, while the first semi-final (February 20) and third place (February 21) matches will kick off at 5.30 PM. The second semi-final (February 20) and the final (February 21) will begin at 5.30 PM.
Defending champions Ranchi Rays will open their account in a 2015 final rematch against Jaypee Punjab Warriors in Chandigarh on January 19. The following day in Chandigarh will see the match between Warriors and Waveriders, who will play their first match.
Dabang Mumbai will begin their campaign with an away match against Lancers on January 21.
The Birsa Munda Astroturf Hockey Stadium will host its first match on January 26 between Rays and Delhi Waveriders, who will get to play their first home match at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium on February 1 against UPW.
This time the fans in Lucknow will have the opportunity to witness match under lights. In earlier editions, the matches were played under the sun as the flood light was not in place.
(With IANS inputs)