The last two years have been remarkable for Hockey in India. After failing to qualify for the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics and finishing last in the 2012 London Olympic games, the Indian Hockey scene has slowly been getting brighter in the last few years, as we went on to win the 2014 Asian Games, became the first Asian team to qualify for the Rio Olympics and won a medal at the FIH tournament after a gap of 36 years in 2015. And the credit for this meteoric rise of the Men in Blue at the international level goes to the domestic league, the Hockey India League. Introduced by Hockey India Federation, HIL is one of the premier Hockey Leagues in the country. Currently, in its fifth edition, HIL has been a huge success until now and has helped immensely in the development of Indian Hockey players by giving them an opportunity to play alongside some of the best players in the world and hence learning new techniques of the sport.
HIL 2017 got a kick start last Saturday in Mumbai when the hosts Dabang Mumbai took on Ranchi Rays in the inaugural match. This year, the battle to win the title of HIL is being played between 6 teams, representing 6 cities of the country; Dabang Mumbai, Delhi Waveriders, Jaypee Punjab Warriors, Kalinga Lancers, Ranchi Rays and Uttar Pradesh Wizards. Each team has 20 players; 12 Indians and 8 foreigners. The format of the league is such that a total of 34 matches will be played; 30 league matches, 2 Knockouts, one Runners Up game and a Finale. The rules and point system of HIL are approved by the International Hockey Federation. A team earns 5 points for a win and 2 points for a draw.
The season has started with a draw. Both Dabang Mumbai and Ranchi Rays gave tough competition to each other and the first match of the league resulted in a tie. Both the teams were rewarded with 2 points each. In the second match of the tournament, Kalinga Lancers took on Delhi Waveriders at their home ground in Bhuvneshwar. The game was won by the hosts by 1-0. Kalinga Lancers will once again play at their home ground today against Ranchi Rays. The match is scheduled to start at 19:20.