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Charge of the Ranchi Rhinos

The Ranchi Rhinos on Wednesday sounded their first battle cry.

The Rhinos — one of the five teams scheduled to compete in the high octane Hockey India League — will bear the symbol of the animal as their logo on their jerseys for the tournament, to signify intent, aggression and a never-say-die spirit, the team owners said.

The logo was jointly unveiled by Ranchi mayor Rama Khalko and Jharkhand Assembly Speaker C.P. Singh at a city-based hotel on Wednesday morning.

The event, a rip-off of the cash-rich Indian Premier League cricket tournament, has generated quite a buzz around it, with most eyes glued on the state team Ranchi Rhinos — the only outfit competing from eastern part of the country. Asia Sports Ventures Private Limited — a conglomerate of Patel, Uniexcel and PS groups, bought the Ranchi franchise during an auction.

The other teams, which will be participating in the month-long tournament that begins from January 14, are the Delhi Wave Riders, Mumbai Magicians, Jaypee Punjab Warriors and the Uttar Pradesh Wizards.

Scheduled to be hosted by Hockey India as one of the country’s biggest hockey carnivals this year, the event will see 10 matches, including both the semi-finals and the final, being played out at the capital’s state-of-the-art Astroturf Hockey Stadium.

Speaking to reporters after the release of the logo on Wednesday, Banti Singh, the CEO of the Ranchi team said they pitched for the state team as they believe that Jharkhand had been the hub of hockey for a very long time.

“The game is going through a rough phase currently. Hence, this would be our way of promoting it and giving a push to its players in right earnest,” Singh said.

He added that the state is known to have produced hockey legends like Sylvanus Dungug, Manohar Topno, current Olympian Birendra Lakra, Savitry Purty and Asunta Lakra, among others. Hence, a team from Jharkhand was an obvious pick for them during the auction of franchises.

“If you look back, the state holds a prominent place in history for churning out players of national and international repute. This was what primarily prompted us to bid for the Ranchi team,” Singh said.

The bidding for the players had taken place on December 16 in New Delhi wherein each team brought 24 players for its squad.

The Ranchi team made some smart buys during the auction, netting Moritz Furste, a legendary mid-fielder and captain of Germany, Ashley Jackson of England and Muhammad Irfan of Pakistan. Local lad and Team India regular Birendra Lakra too has found a place in the Rhinos’ squad.

He went on to add that the upcoming league would be a great chance for local players to come and observe the stalwarts of the game in action from close quarters.

“Just like the Indian Premier League every team will have a mix of national, international and state-level players. So, all in all this would be a great opportunity for us to bring new levels of excitement to the game,” Singh said.

“The team is a mix of world class and emerging talents. We hope to put up a great show during the tournament,” Singh signed off.