Fourth edition of PHL trimmed to 26 matches

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New Delhi, Nov 16 (UNI) The fourth edition of the Rs 76-lakh prize money Premier Hockey League (PHL) has been trimmed as it will have less matches and will will be of shorter duration.

The PHL will be played at Chandigarh from December 20 to January 11, 2008 and will have 26 matches and 'best of the three' final.

Last edition of the PHL had 37 matches. It also had a second tier league and was spread over 45 days.

''The reduction of matches and duration of PHL is due to preparation of the National team for the Olympic qualifier. We will revert to old format in the fifth edition of the league,'' said Indian Hockey Federation (IHF) chief KPS Gill.

Addressing a press conference here this afternoon, Mr Gill said about 21 foreign players are expected to take part in the league.

''Being an Olympic year, most of the top foreign players are busy preparing for the mega event, so it is difficult to get them all but we are trying and talks are on,'' he said.

''About 22 promising players from under-21 and under-18 age categories have been inducted in the seven teams who will be seen in action in the league,'' Mr Gill added.

The IHF chief said Chandigarh has emerged as a favourite venue for the PHL as the crowd response there has been very good.

However, he added that by next year three to four venues will be churned for contention to host the league.

''But I think by next year we will have three or four more centres ready and will be in contention to host the PHL.'' Mr Gill asserted that popularity of the game is growing in the country and the PHL has played a very important role in that.

''I am happy that other sports have started copying us and are now starting their own leagues -- like the ICl and IPL and I league,'' he stated.

He also announced the names of the captain of the seven teams, with Sardara Singh replcing Devesh Chauhan for Hyderabad Sultans) and Tushar Khandekar taking over from Arjun Hallappa for Bangalore Hi-Fliers.

The other captains include Dilip Tirkey for defending champions Orissa Steelers, Kanwalpreet Singh for runners up Sher-E-Jalandhar, Rajpal Singh(Chandigarh Dyanmos), Adam Sinclair (Chennai Veerans) and Viren Rasquinha (Maratha Warriors).

Meanwile, there is no change in the prize money with the winners getting Rs 40 lakh, runners up Rs 20 lakh, while losing semi-finalists will get Rs five lakh each.

UNI

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