Former India [ Images ] player Gagan Ajit Singh will return to competitive hockey after being picked in the second players' draft for the US $2 million World Series Hockey, which commences on February 29.
The former India forward was picked by the Sher-e-Punjab franchise during the second round of the player draft in which 27 Indian players, from a pool of 42, were chosen by various franchises.
"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," said Gagan, who led India to the junior World Cup title in 2001.
"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," he added.
Among the notable picks, Canada 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 was picked by Mumbai [ Images ] Marines.
"All the eight franchises have teams to last an entire season with tough competition for spots in the starting eleven. 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 [ Images ] Wizards: Gurvinder Singh, Mark Pearson (Canada), Philip Sunkel (Germany), Vikramjeet Singh.
Karnataka [ Images ] 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.