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Rhinos, get giant screen presence

The capital, having a field day in sports, may now get giant screens to watch live hockey action.

A day before the spectacular ODI win in the capital, Ranchi Rhinos had drubbed Mumbai Magicians 3-1 at Morabadi’s astroturf stadium to notch up their second round robin win on the trot in Hockey India League (HIL) series. When Uttar Pradesh Wizards dashed hat-trick hopes of Rhinos 2-0 in Lucknow on Sunday, the defeat increased the halo of lucky Morabadi.

The next two matches at Morabadi venue are on January 23 and 24, when Ranchi Rhinos take on Delhi Waveriders and Uttar Pradesh Wizards. As the 5,500-seater astroturf stadium is expected to be jam-packed, HIL is mulling giant screens outside the venue to telecast matches live simultaneously.

The franchisee-based HIL where some of the world’s best play with Indians in the five-team format may well prove to be the beleaguered national game’s winning start.

For Jharkhand, birthplace of Olympian hockey players in the past, it is a welcome move. HIL organisers have planned 10 matches in the city.

Fans proved as much during the first HIL match held in the city when they flooded the stadium to watch Ranchi Rhinos play a fast-pace game against Mumbai Magicians.

Streets outside the Morabadi stadium were equally flooded with excited fans, who couldn’t get tickets or passes, hoping to get an opportunity to sneak in and catch their favourite players in action.

Those who say Ranchi is cricket-crazy like the rest of India are right. But the response to the maiden HIL tie a day ahead the historic ODI cemented the fact that when it comes to hockey, the city continues to root for it.

“Buoyed by the tremendous response, we are now planning to install a couple of giant screens outside the stadium. But a final decision in this regard will be taken only on the day of game,” said Suresh Singh, Ranchi coordinator of HIL matches.

Sale of tickets for January 23 and 24 once again began from today. Organisers are hoping for full house on both days, more so because tickets start for as little as Rs 60 each.

“As price of tickets starts from Rs 60 to go up to Rs 1000-Rs 1200, naturally fans across diverse economic backgrounds can think of buying them,” Singh added.

He said that hockey lovers demanded additional galleries to be able to cheer Ranchi Rhinos.

“That’s not possible immediately, though seats at the astroturf venue may increase for the next year’s HIL season. For now, we are planning to install screens where fans can catch the match live and that too free of cost,” he said.

He sounded optimistic about more seats next year. “We have asked the franchisee to give a formal proposal to the government to increase accommodation. As Ranchi is now home ground for this franchisee, once we receive the proposal, we will then send it to the state government for consideration in advance,” Singh said.

Come to think of it, if JSCA International Stadium Complex, Dhurwa, has been proved lucky, so has Morabadi’s astroturf.