Stick check: HIL makes slow progress

Amid the glitz and loud proclamations at the logo launch of the Hockey India League on September 19 — the league's first major show of strength and intent, with IPL administrators, foreign cricketers and two of the most renowned stars in world hockey sharing the dais — a curious little incident almost went unnoticed.

Sitting amongst mediapersons at the press conference, Zafar Iqbal asked HI secretary general Narinder Batra questions about the nitty-gritties of the venture that seeks to rival the World Series of Hockey. Before Batra could speak, IPL chairman Rajiv Shukla, who is also on HIL's board, intervened and asked why the former India captain was seeking such details."I'm representing one of the franchises," Iqbal said.

"Which means you are one of us," replied Shukla. "This isn't quite the right forum to discuss these details. We'll sit together afterwards and answer all your queries."

One-and-a-half-months later, Iqbal, who had been there on behalf of the Jaypee Group, who own the Punjab franchise, hasn't yet heard from Hockey India.

"I haven't got any response so far," Iqbal told The Indian Express. "Since it was a new venture and there were things such as players auction, I had a few questions about that and the format. But no one got back to me with answers."

After that initial announcement, the Hockey India League seems to have hit a roadblock. They named the first four franchises by September and claimed that two teams — from the South and the West — would be unveiled very soon, but there has hardly been any progress on that front.

Auction delayed

And though they have identified almost all players — Indian and foreign — for the auction, the auction itself has been pushed ahead from an initially suggested late-October date to November as there was no breakthrough on the remaining two franchises.

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