New Delhi, Aug 7 (IANS) Hockey India League (HIL) defending champions Ranchi Rays on Friday retained their captain Ashley Jackson of England for a whopping $95,000 for another two seasons.
The Rays retained six players in total — three Indians and three foreigners — for the 2016 and 2017 seasons of HIL. Jackson’s compatriot Barry Middleton was retained for $67,000 while Australian defender Fergus Kavanagh will be at the Ranchi-based team for $60,000.
Indian midfielder Manpreet Singh was kept back for $66,000 while defenders Birendra Lakra and Kothajit Singh have been retained for $55,000 and $45,000, respectively.
Skipper Jackson led his team from the front and scored 12 goals to help the Rays clinch the 2015 HIL title. Out of the 12 goals, 11 came from penalty corner conversions, leading him to become the top-scorer of 2015 and also the Player of the Tournament.
“All the players retained were hugely instrumental towards our win in the third edition of HIL. The players held back are a good mix of defenders and strikers. Ashley is one of the best drag-flickers in the world and his conversions of penalty corners are unforgettable, hence this was the easiest decision for us,” a Rays statement said.
“After Ashley, the obvious choice was Barry Middleton, Manpreet Singh and Kothajit Singh as they proved to be lethal when in attacking mode, helping to create the scoring opportunities. Apart from them, keeping back Birendra Lakra and Fergus Kavanagh was important as they are the backbone of our defence and on many occasions they successfully pushed back the opponents’ strikers. We hope they create the same magic in the coming season.”
Indian cricket captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni is a co-owner of the Rays.