Magicians hope for miracle
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With no forward of repute in the Mumbai ranks, coach Charlesworth banks on his backline to find success in first HIL season.
Luck has always eluded the teams from Mumbai as far as the hockey leagues are concerned. The Maratha Warriors showed a lot of heart in the Premier Hockey League but they were unable to stamp their authority as such. Then came the Mumbai Marines in the 'rebel' World Series Hockey. Despite boasting the likes of Adrian D'Souza, Prabodh Tirkey and Australia's Troy Sutherland, the Marines did little to generate excitement, finishing sixth in the inaugural edition of the troubled tournament.
So obviously, the expectations from the Magicians – the third team from the city in third such league,the Hockey India League (HIL) – are high. Owned by the Dabur Group, the Magicians signalled their intent and ambitions by roping in legendary Australian Ric Charlesworth as their coach. But the last team to be finalised for the lucrative HIL was not just slowest off the blocks during last week's auction, but also turns out to be the weakest on paper. That, in turn, has compelled the team to tone down its expectations for the inaugural season. "We have a very young side, I wouldn't say it's weak though," Charlesworth said. Mumbai spent the least ($590,700 out of the maximum limit of $650,000) among the five teams that took part in the players' auction in New Delhi last week. "But that does not make our team weak!" Charlesworth said promptly.
Like his Australian side, Charlesworth has managed to get good, technically sound and vastly experienced players in the defence and quick, young players, who possess the ability to finish off amove with utmost precision, in the midfield and forward line.
Mumbai have Sandeep Singh as their marquee player but it will be interesting to see whether the drag-flick expert manages to earn his place in the playing XI. He faces stiff competition from Australia's