Gagan Ajit to make comeback in WSH

Mumbai: Retired India player Gagan Ajit Singh on Friday joined the ranks of Dhanraj Pillay and Viren Rasquinha to make a comeback to competitive hockey after being picked in the second players` draft for the USD 2 million World Series Hockey (WSH) commencing on February 29.

The former India frontliner was picked by Sher-e- Punjab franchise during the draft in which 27 Indian players were chosen by various franchises from a pool of 42 players.

On his comeback, Gagan said, "I`m glad to make a comeback through this prestigious league. I truly believe it will start a glorious new era for Indian hockey and I can`t wait to get started for Sher-e-Punjab.

"It is a team with a great combination of speed and spirit and I`m sure we`ll play entertaining hockey which will make us championship contenders."

In this draft, players from Australia, Argentina, Canada, Germany, Malaysia, South Africa as well as hosts India were picked by the franchises.

Among the notable picks, Canadian captain Ken Pereira was chosen by Pune Strykers, Australian Mark Harris and Indian Hamza Mujtaba were selected by Chennai Cheetahs, while South African Olympian Clyde Abraham picked up by Mumbai Marines.

"All the 8 franchises have teams to last an entire season with tough competition for spots in the starting XI. This will ensure that the quality of hockey in the first edition will remain top-notch and is fantastic news for the league and our fans," said event director Preeti Pariat Mehta.

L T Nanwani, franchise owner of the Chennai Cheetahs, sounded happy with his team`s picks and was confident of its` title chances.

"We are extremely happy with our picks. Mark Harris, Davinderpal Singh, Jasbir Singh, Shivamani, B K Muthanna and Hamza Mujtaba are solid players who will add value at crucial stages of the tournament."

"With outstanding leadership at the top in the form of Jose Brasa and Brent Livermore, coupled with the addition of these players who will merge into a squad full of youth and experience, Chennai Cheetahs is well placed to make a serious challenge for the title," Nanwani said.

Players who were drafted into different franchises (all from India unless stated otherwise):

Bhopal Badshahs: Affan Yousuf, A D Cariappa, Ganendrajit Ningombam, Geowynne Kyle Gamiet (South Africa), Harmanpreet Singh, Karan Bhaskaran, Rajesh Kumar.

Chandigarh Comets: Belsajar Horo, Gurmeet Singh, Harjot Singh, Manpreet Singh.

Chennai Cheetahs: B K Muthanna, Davinderpal Singh, Hamza Mujtaba, Jasbir Singh, Mark Harris (Australia), Shivamani, Gaurav Tokhi.

Delhi Wizards: Gurvinder Singh, Mark Pearson (Canada), Philip Sunkel (Germany), Vikramjeet Singh.

Karnataka Lions: Manpreet Pawar.

Mumbai Marines: Ajmer Singh, Bimal Lakra, Clyde Abrahams (South Africa), Richard Hildreth (Canada), Shanyl Balwanth (South Africa), Troy Sutherland (Australia).

Pune Strykers: Amardeep Ekka, Kenny Pereira (Canada), Lungile Tsolekile (South Africa), Mario Nicolas Almada (Argentina), Amol Baban Bhosale

Sher-e-Punjab: Antoni Kindler (Canada), Gagan Ajit Singh, Gurmail Singh (Sher-e-Punjab), Harpreet Singh, Jasbir Singh, Matthew Hotchkis (Australia), Mohammed Bin Mat Radzi (Malaysia), Simranjit Singh.