The big day has arrived and the inaugural match of the 2012 Bridgestone World Series Hockey (WSH) between Chandigarh Comets and Bhopal Badshahs, will usher a new era in Indian hockey. At every major league, an athlete or team emerges to define the tournament, and both the Comets and Badshahs players are eyeing to steal the limelight in the historic opener.
The Sector-42 Stadium is set to stage a spectacular Opening Ceremony, which will begin at 7pm. The Grand Opening will feature superstar Saif Ali Khan. The power packed line up of performers include singing sensation Mika, super performer Neha Dhupia, ‘Rockstar’ singer Harshdeep Kaur, and many others.
Bollywood superstar Saif Ali Khan said “I look forward to being a part of the opening ceremony of World Series Hockey. The association of Agent Vinod with this action-packed event was more of an emotional reason as my grandfather, Iftikhar Ali Khan Pataudi, represented India in hockey. Our national sport has been ignored for a while and an initiative like this will ensure the sport is given its due attention and will resonate well with the youth of India.”
Over the next 34 days beginning from February 29, we will see 200 hockey players from across the world, sweat it out in 59 matches, shown live in more than 30 countries, to clinch the biggest purse in a hockey tournament and the glistening trophy.
Chandigarh Comets are confident about starting their opener with full points. The team had been training hard for the past one week, and head coach Harendra Singh preferred to give his boys “rest”, on eve of the opener, though he made an exception with his goalkeepers and drag flickers to send a strong hint of what to expect tomorrow. The goalkeepers and penalty-corner specialists sweated it out in the evening today under the watchful eyes of the astute former India coach and the team’s Australian-based coach Charles Gaudoin.
Commenting on Comets’ game plan, Harendra said, “I believe in the EPL policy – to grab full points on home matches. Our boys are raring to go, and though we have high respect for our rivals, there is no question of settling for anything less than a win.”
Bhopal Badshahs have one of the best coaches in India, the man who led India to their last Olympic gold medal, Vasudevan Baskaran. The Badhshahs went through some rigorous work out and strategizing at their home ground, and played one practice match with the four quarters rule which will be tried out for the first time in Indian hockey in the Bridgestone WSH. The indefatigable Baskaran said, “On paper both the teams are equal and we have more or less equal number of youngsters in the team. South Afruican striker Geowynne Kyle Gamiet and Kiwi Casey Henwood bring a lot of experience with them. It will be a first-time experience and hopefully an exciting one to play at 9pm under the floodlight.”
Chandigarh Comets (from): Rehan Butt (Captain), Ajitesh Roy, Barkat Singh, Belsajar Horo, Bharat Chhikara, Birendra Lakra Jr, Gurjinder Singh, Gurmeet Singh, Harjot Singh, Jasjit Singh Kular, Jiwa Mohan, Llyod Stephensonn, Manpreet Singh, Matthew Phillips, Mohd. Amir Khan, P R Sreejesh, P Thirumala Rao, Pramod Kumar, Preetinder Singh, Ramandeep Singh, Ranjodh Singh, Robert Green, Sandeep Singh, Sanwar Ali, Sarvanjit Singh, Sher Singh Sukwinder Singh (Gabbar); Head coach Harendra Singh; Coach – Charles Gaudoin.
Bhopal Badshahs (from): Sardar Singh (Captain), A B Cheeyanna, Armaan Qureshi, Baljinder Singh, Baljit Singh, Cariappa A D, Casey Henwood, Ganendrajit Ningombam, Geowynne Kyle Gamiet, Girish Ravaji Pimpale, Harbir Singh, Harmanpreet Singh, Harmanpreet Singh, Kangujam Suresh Singh, Karan Bhaskaran, Lalit Kumar Upadhyay, Armaan Qureshi, Mohd. Sahir, N Senthil Kumar, Raghunath V R, Rajesh Kumar, Sameer Dad, Shailendra Singh Bundela, Shivendra Singh, Tushar Khandker, Waseem Ahmad; Head coach - V Bhaskaran.
Schedule: Opening Ceremony – 7pm at Sector-42 Stadium, Chandigarh; Chandigarh Comets vs Bhopal Badshahs – 9pm.
Bhopal Badshahs reign over Chandigarh Comets
Laxman Baskaran, Affan Yousuf star for visitors in 4-3 win
Bhopal Badshahs were off to a great start in the inaugural match of the Bridgestone World Series Hockey, clinching full three points. The Badshahs beat Chandigarh Comets 4-3 in a thriller which went down to the wires, much to the joy of the packed Sector-42 Stadium here late Wednesday.
The last quarter witnessed four goals within a span of seven minutes as Badshahs came from behind, firing all cylinders after trailing 1-2 at the end of the third quarter. The scorers for the winners were Laxman Baskaran (sixth and 63rd minute), Geowynee Kyle Gamiet (26th minute) and Affan Yousuf (61st minute) while Gurjinder Singh struck a brace (22nd minute & 57th minute) and Jasjit Kular Singh scored the other goal (29th minute).
The match was played at a fast pace, the four quarters rule which was introduced for the first time in Indian hockey saw both the coaches try some interesting variations. Badshahs started the match on an attacking note which brought them quick dividend. Skipper Sameer Dad and Casey Henwood controlled the game well for the visitors in the first quarter, but there was surprise in store for them.
The Comets began the second quarter aggressively and were able to sustain the pressure till the three-fourth of the match. Comets impressed in almost all department in the next two quarters, creating havoc through their penalty-corner execution and shutting the door on the Badshahs completely.
The pendulum oscillated again as the astute Badshahs coach Vasudean Baskaran carried out his trump cards to the final phase, and his boys kept their cool and dominated with superior ball possession and smart positional play. The young Laxman, showed strong nerves and didn’t let the big stage affect his free style of playing or the fact that he was playing under his father as the coach. For the records, Laxman scored the first goal in the inaugural edition of the biggest hockey tournament.
Gurjinder Singh 22' (PC)
Jasjit Kular Singh 29' (PC)
Gurjinder Singh 57' (FG)
Laxman Baskaran 6' (PC)
Gamiet Geowynne Kyle 56' (FG)
Affan Yousuf 61' (FG)
Laxman Baskaran 63' (FG)
Bhopal Badshahs celebrate their win over Chandigarh Comets at Chandigarh
Chhikara Bharat of Chandigarh Comets in action during the Bridgestone World Series Hockey match vs Bhopal Badshahs at Chandigarh
Chandigarh Comets score against Bhopal Badshahs at Chandigarh
Chandigarh Comets celebrate vs Bhopal Badshahs at Chandigarh