Young forward Ramandeep Singh became the highest paid Indian player in the Hockey India League (HIL) on Friday when he was snapped up for a whopping $81,000 in the players’ closed bid.
With a base price of only $2,600, Ramandeep, who only recently broke into the Indian squad and is still part of the junior national side, got $3000 more than skipper and marquee player Sardar Singh. Sardar was bought by the Delhi franchise last year for $78,000.
The next best bid for the day was for New Zealand’s Ryan Archibald, who was bought for $71,000 by Kalinga Lancers, the sixth franchise to join HIL in its second edition.
The closed bid for 95 Indian and 54 foreign players was held by Hockey India (HI), allowing franchises to buy new players for permanent withdrawals and for the Lancers to build a completely new set-up.
Announcing this, HIL chairman Narinder Batra said Lancers would be based at the newly inaugurated Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar. The team will have national coach Terry Walsh and Dilip Tirkey as its mentor.
The Lancers is a joint venture of the Industrial Development Corporation of Odisha (IDCO) and Mahanadi Coalfields Limited, the first public sector franchise in any sport in the country.
In all, 49 players were bought by the six franchises. While defending champion Ranchi Rhinos needed only one foreign player to complete its squad of 24 — it bought former England captain Barry Middleton for $53,000 — Mumbai Magicians bought 11, mostly to replace the Pakistani players it lost last season.
Dutch players doubtful
Meanwhile, Batra also said that the presence of Dutch players in the second edition of HIL, starting on January 25, 2014 in Mohali, was doubtful.
“There was a problem with the Dutch federation refusing NOCs to its players but I think that has now been sorted out after the players threatened to quit the national team. But I cannot comment on their presence. In case any player fails to turn up, the respective franchise will be allowed to buy a replacement player from the reserve pool,” he said.
Interestingly, several players from the rebel World Series Hockey (WSH) managed to get decent amounts during the bid. Experienced forward Prabhjot Singh Sr. was bought by Mumbai for $46,000 while V.S. Vinaya went for $40,000.
The prominent names that failed to find any buyers include forwards Deepak Thakur, Rajpal Singh and Arjun Halappa, the last a national selector.