Gurbaj Singh is toast of HIL auctions

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Ranchi Rays picked out-of-favour midfielder Gurbaj Singh as most expensive player for $99,000 on Wednesday in the closed bid process for the Hockey India League (HIL). Gurbaj was kicked out of national team by Hockey India for more than a year for disciplinary reasons and was not considered for the Rio Games camp. However, Ranchi chased this Punjab’s experienced star right from the beginning of auctions.Ranchi had one more expensive catch as German forward Christopher Ruhr was the bought for $75,000. As per the rules, all teams had a purse cap of $725,000. But Ranchi Rays and Jaypee Punjab Warriors had a bigger purse available for the bidding as they chose to retain their squad for a less amount. The other notable names who attracted big bidding were, Holland’s skipper and current World Player of the Year Robert van der Horst went to Jaypee Punjab Warriors for $43,000, Dutch forward Seve Van Ass was bought by Uttar Pradesh Wizards for $39,000 while Australian midfielder Tom Craig was secured by Kalinga Lancers for $67,000. While the Dutch midfield stars Billy Bakker and Sander Baart went to Lancers and Wizards for $31,000 and $35,000 respectively. Some teams did invest in youth Indian stars as Warriors picked 18-year-old defender Hardik Singh for $39,000. Another upcoming midfielder Shamsher Singh and forward Ajay Yadav went to Wizards for $2,600 each whereas India’s Under-17 Asia Cup winning captain Nilam Sanjeep Xess went to Kalinga Lancers for $3,000. “I would first like to emphasise the importance of the HIL in contributing to Indian hockey’s rise in the rankings,” newly-elected FIH president and HIL chairman Narinder Batra said, adding: “I’m happy to see that keeping with the trend, even this year, the process has been more rewarding to the players, and the teams have consistently looked to bid way higher than their base prices.”

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