Chandigarh : Local favourites Chandigarh Dynamos and Maratha Warriors were the only teams to remain unbeaten after the first week of the fourth edition of the Premier Hockey League (PHL) here Sunday.
Dynamos defeated Hyderabad Sultans by a solitary goal in their opening match, while in the second match, riding on Prabhjot Singh’s brace, they outclassed Orissa Steelers 2-0.
However, Warriors’ start to the league was more convincing. In their first match, they outplayed Chennai Veerans 4-1 and later they beat Bangalore Hi-Fliers 2-0 comfortably.
Hyderabad Sultans, Bangalore Hi-Fliers and Sher-e-Jalandhar share the second position with a victory and a defeat each.
For Orissa Steelers and Chennai Veerans, however, it was a disappointing first week as they lost both their first round-matches.
Hi-Fliers and Warriors are the top goal-scorers, with six each, while Steelers are in the second place with five, followed by Sultans (three), Jalandhar (two) and Dynamos and Veerans (one each).
Interestingly, on the sidelines of the PHL, national coach Joaquim Carvalho carried on with the training of his wards as well as looking for new talent.
Carvalho was particularly impressed with full-back Kanwalpreet Singh who has developed into a drag-flicker during his 45-day stint in the Dutch league where worked with one of the world’s top drag-flick coaches, Toon Siepman.
Carvalho, however, was not much impressed with another drag-flicker Jugraj Singh who was looking to regain his place in the India team. The coach clearly stated that the Punjab player does not figure in his scheme of things.
All in all, the first week of PHL showed some sparks what with the Indian Hockey Federation’s (IHF) decision to include 17 under-18 and under-21 players to provide them the experience of playing at the senior level. The move paid off with the likes of Samir Baxla, Diwakar Ram and Pramod Kumar showcasing their potential in the very first week.
The clash between Hi-Fliers and Steelers went to the wire, the former winning after a shootout.
Overseas players added spice to the league. Pakistan forward Rehan Butt helped the Warriors’ scalp Veerans Friday turning out within hours of landing in Chandigarh.
This year the PHL has attracted 21 foreign players, 10 from the Netherlands, eight from Pakistan and three from South Africa. However, in the first week only Rehan Butt and South Korea’s Kweeom Moon, both playing for Warriors, made some impression.
The seven-team round-robin event will have 21 matches at the league stage, the top four teams advancing to the semi-finals, followed by a best-of-three finals.
The second week of the league, starting Monday, will feature 10 matches.
The fourth edition of the league, which carries a prize money of Rs.7.6 million, will end Jan 11.