Young defender Gurmail looking forward to next HIL season

Mumbai, Sep 19 (IANS) Young defender Gurmail Singh is on cloud nine after becoming the second costliest Indian player during the Hockey India League (HIL) player’s auction in New Delhi earlier this week.

The 23-year-old from Punjab never imagined that he would find himself in the middle of a fierce bidding war between Jaypee Punjab Warriors and Delhi Waveriders before attracting a whopping $81,000 from Dabang Mumbai.

The young Indian international — who has 40 caps with the Indian team — believes that Dabang Mumbai will prove to be a formidable side in the HIL next year.

“I am feeling really good to be associated with Dabang Mumbai. In fact, I feel very proud. I was watching the auction live and the way bidding was going, I was sure that I will either play for Delhi or my previous franchise Punjab,” Gurmail was quoted as saying in a statement.

“But Dabang Mumbai came into the picture pretty late and ultimately chose me and I hope I live upto their expectations. This squad is formidable and is one of the team to watch out for in the 2016 HIL.”

Talking about his new teammates at Dabang Mumbai, Gurmail, who has played in Asia Cup, World Cup and also FIH World League in Belgium this year, said,”I already know a couple of them like Nikkin and Danish as I have played with them in Indian colours.”

Young striker Nikkin Thimmaiah will be one of the young Indian stars in Mumbai’s forwardline and the Karnataka lad is looking forward to next year’s tournament.

“I am really happy to play for Dabang Mumbai this season as I like the city Mumbai a lot. I have played a lot in this city during HIL as well as international matches and there has been a connect with the city,” he said.

“With one field goal to be counted as two, there was lot of bidding war between franchises for acquisition of forwards. The forwards will definitely benefit from this and so will be the teams,” Nikkin added.

The 24-year-old, who was roped in by Dabang Mumbai for $67,000, who is a 2014 Asian Games gold medallist and had scored a hat trick against Australia in this year’s Azlan Shah.

Mumbai added as many as 11 Indians to boost their squad for the upcoming HIL season. They purchased Indian striker Affan Yousuf ($53,000)and midfielders Danish Mujtaba($54,000)and Vikas Sharma($43,000).

Mumbai also roped in Germany’s Florian Fuchs and Australia’s KieronGovers, Australian Matthew Swann, Swede forward Johan Bjorkman, Spain goalkeeper Xavi Trenchs and New Zealand defender Shea McAleesein, besides retaining Australian defender Jeremy Hayward, Ireland goalkeeper David Harte and Indian defender Harmanpreet Singh.

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