Ranchi sports fans never before had the privilege of so much of international sporting actions dished out to them as it was this weekend. Back to back events of hockey and cricket both featuring international stars on January 18th and 19th respectively, in the beautiful surroundings, were something not witnessed earlier in this part of the world. Year 2013 couldn’t have begun any better for Ranchi sports fans.
Hockey India League ( HIL ) fixture of Ranchi Rhinos vs. Mumbai Magicians – both having in their ranks a blend of star Indian and foreign players – played on Astro Turf under flood lights, turned out to be a beautiful exhibition of truly fast paced modern hockey. A glittering colourful opening ceremony anchored by Mandira Bedi had just preceded this match with the sky covered by a succession of brightly lit fireworks and the shining laser show provided a dream beginning to this sporting event.
The match split into 4 sessions of 17.5 minutes each – the final session also providing 2 min. of ‘Time Out’ option for each team to regroup; rules of the rolling substitutions of players; green and yellow cards for players involved in serious infringements and made to sit out for a couple of minutes – all these served to ensure that the fast paced game never lost its momentum. Yet, the theme of the fair play was always kept intact. What, however, wasn’t in evidence was the ‘Decision Review System’ (DRS) being followed these days in international matches to take care of disputed and close decisions awarding (or not awarding ) penalty corner/s to a team – such absence of facility, to me, appeared to be on account of the required logistics not in place at playing venues.
However, Ranchi Rhinos scoring a fluent 3 – 1 win before vociferously supporting home supporters was a perfect end for the hockey lovers of Ranchi. Aside from the win, the icing on the cake was the performance and man of the match award to the local lad Birendra Lakra. Bursting of fire crackers after this match bore testimony to the level of enthusiasm and joy the event had brought to the hockey lovers here.
India Vs. England IIIrd One Day International
Ind vs. Eng was held in the newly built world class Jharkhand State Cricket Stadium ( JSCA) that had been only a day earlier inaugurated amidst gala cultural extravaganza presented by the local artists that saw skipper Dhoni also joining the group and trying his hands on the Mandar (Drum).
Team India, before the match, was tipped to be clear favourite and English team made its job still simpler by posting a modest total and being not able to play its full quota of 50 overs. Anyway, the spectators got their money’s worth seeing their hero M S Dhoni hitting the winning runs.
Summing up the past couple of days sporting actions, I’m inclined to say that hockey in India is likely to get a huge boost. HIL must be credited and congratulated for conceptualising a league that is likely to be a shot in the arm for the game. What’s more heartening is, hockey players are getting due monetary rewards for their efforts in the field – a phenomenon hitherto neither in evidence nor imagined.
Ranchi’s world class cricket stadium, with the successful hosting of the ODI, in the days to come, is likely to become a regular ODI venue and may perhaps host longer format of the game as well soon.