Rhinos take a break from practice at the Astroturf Hockey Stadium in Ranchi on Sunday. Picture by Hardeep Singh
It will be cricket versus hockey in Ranchi this Friday.
The capital’s Astroturf Hockey stadium will host the first of its Hockey India League matches — Ranchi Rhinos versus Mumbai Magicians — this Friday, the same day the new international cricket stadium in Dhurwa is thrown open to the general public.
The Astroturf Hockey Stadium, which on Sunday started decking up with posters of the Ranchi Rhinos for her big Friday date, has a capacity to seat 5,500 people.
Despite the hype created around the January 19 India versus England ODI match, hockey bosses believed that the tickets for the Ranchi Rhinos game would be sold out.
Besides the Ranchi Rhinos posters, the organisers have also started to water the smooth grassy surface of the stadium for the big occasion and have arranged for three high-power diesel generators as back-ups to deal with emergency situations.
“The Hockey India League is a very big event for the city and hence we are doing whatever we can to ensure that we put up a good show. Responsibilities have been divided among all the officials so that the matches are smoothly conducted,” Suresh Singh, the Ranchi co-ordinator of Hockey India League matches, told The Telegraph.
The astroturf stadium is scheduled to host as many as 10 of the 34 league matches, including the semi-finals and the final. After Friday, the other matches in the state have been scheduled for January 23, 24, 28 and on February 1, 2, 9 and 10. The third and fourth place playoffs are also scheduled to be hosted at the stadium.
The organisers have also arranged for a 45-seater air-conditioned Volvo bus that will be used to ferry all the players, including those from the home team, from their hotel to the Morabadi-based stadium.
The state team Ranchi Rhinos — which is incidentally the only one from eastern India — has made some big-ticket buys during the auction for the tournament that was held sometime in December.
The likes of Moritz Fuerste (Germany), Ashley Jackson (England), Joel Carroll (Australia), Teun de Nooijer (Netherlands), Lloyd Norris-Jones (South Africa) along with some Indian stars like Birendra Lakra, Sandeep Singh, Bharat Chetri and Sarvanjit Singh, all of who would be taking part in the event for various teams sweated it out at the stadium on Sunday.
“We are also setting up some food kiosks at the stadium for viewers making their way to watch the matches,” Singh said.
Apart from Ranchi Rhinos and Mumbai Magicians, the other teams that will be taking part in the event are the Jaypee Punjab Warriors, Uttar Pradesh Wizards and Delhi Waveriders.