| The victorious Hyderabad Sultans team with the trophy at the Gachibowli Stadium on Sunday. (PTI)
Hyderabad: Ushering a new chapter in the history of Indian hockey, the Premier Hockey League ended in glory for Hyderabad Sultans Sunday night, but the month-long sporting event has thrown up certain issues, technical and otherwise, for debate.
The success of the league, thanks to the ten-year sponsorship by ESPN-Star Sports, mainly drew its strength from the presence of the internationals in the tournament, but the four quarter format, time-outs and selection of teams remain some of the most debated issues.
Time-out killed the tempo of the game, contend some of the senior players, as the team under pressure can make use of the provision, while others say it could ease frayed tempers and gives scope for more interaction between the coach and players.
Four quarters each of 17-and-a-half minutes did go well with the players and spectators but some senior players feel the shorter version has 'some defects'.
The most glaring and not-so-impressive decision was that of reduction of players in the extra time.
The first half of extra time (7.5 minutes), according to the new format, had only nine players on each side and the teams were reduced to seven players a side during the second half of the extra time.
The League proved how difficult it was for the players to wade through the 100/60 yard turf from flank to flank during the 15 minutes of extra-time.
There were a couple of golden goals in the first half of extra time but that did not improve things with a depleted side playing in the extra-time.
Selection of players and grouping them into teams has been one more topic for debate. 'We did follow a pattern and there is a basis on which the teams were selected. It was to throw open equal opportunities to all and bring in fresh and young blood into the game,' IHF president K.P.S. Gill said.
On the positive side, PHL turned out to be a big boost to Indian hockey as money, exposure and media coverage, all packed in a carnival like atmosphere, prevailed during the month-long event which also attracted foreign players.
It is true that Pakistani players ' Sohail Abbas, Wasim Ahmed, Ahmed Alam, Ali Raza and Kasif Jawad, besides Spanish skipper Juan Escarre and Kuhan Shanmuganathan of Malaysia ' did excel in the field and at times overshone home talent.
Len Aiyappa emerged as the player netting most number of goals (8) followed by penalty corner specialist Sohail (7). Incidentally, both the players scored hattricks in Tier I competition.
Presence of Abbas and custodian Ahmed Alam provided a big boost to the Dilip Tirkey led Sultans who also had in their ranks Inderjeet Singh Chaddha, Ajitesh Rai, Samer Dad and Susan Topno. (PTI)