How about this for in­ge­nu­ity, Marco?

The Hockey Paper - - OPINION - ROD GIL­MOUR

THERE was a cer­tain irony when Nikkin Thim­ma­iah struck a last-gasp goal for Da­bang Mum­bai against Ranchi Rays on the open­ing evening of the Hockey In­dia League at the week­end.

Fol­low­ing HIL’s in­tro­duc­tory rul­ing last year, which al­lows field goals to be given more value than penalty cor­ners, the last strike of the game by the In­dian, who was lurk­ing well out­side the D at a penalty cor­ner, saw Mum­bai claw back a 3-1 deficit for a rare draw with one sweet strike.

The two-goal ex­per­i­ment for field goals has been seen as an un­ri­valled suc­cess since be­ing in­tro­duced last year, with the gen­eral feel­ing that it would not only en­cour­age more skil­ful and tac­ti­cal hockey, but also that it might change teams’ way of think­ing in the clos­ing min­utes of matches.

That it did in dra­matic style on Satur­day night. The 3-3 re­sult proved to be only the sec­ond match to fin­ish all square in over 30 HIL group stage matches, fol­low­ing one soli­tary draw last year.

Ger­man Olympian and HIL reg­u­lar Moritz Fürste has said of the two-goal rule: “In other sports, those “goals” that are more dif­fi­cult to score are worth more points. In hockey, it is harder to score a field goal and should be worth more.”

He cer­tainly has a point...or two. With these new rules, there was a sense at last year’s HIL auc­tion that fran­chises would rely less on cor­ner spe­cial­ists like Ash­ley Jack­son – the top five scor­ers in the 2015 edi­tion had all been cor­ner flick­ers – and more on goal poach­ers.

So it was in­ter­est­ing that Ran­chis’ Jack­son was a vo­cif­er­ous voice to the um­pire in seek­ing a video re­play af­ter Mum­bai’s soonto-be le­git­i­mate goal.

Thim­ma­iah’s head­line act came only days af­ter Dutch great Marco van Bas­ten’s “pi­o­neer­ing” eight­point plans to rev­o­lu­tionise soc­cer went global.

Van Bas­ten, Fifa’s tech­ni­cal chief, wants penalty shootouts to be re­placed by time-lim­ited runs from the half­way line, four quar­ters in­stead of two, only cap­tains should be al­lowed to talk to refs … you get the hockey-themed drift.

His views – which never cred­ited hockey in the orig­i­nal re­ports – have for the most part been given short shrift by the soc­cer com­mu­nity.

“Hal­lu­cino­genic” and “foot­ball is foot­ball” are two of the more print-wor­thy com­ments.

But as soc­cer con­tin­ues to shun po­ten­tial ways to keep au­di­ences watch­ing, hockey con­tin­ues to ex­per­i­ment. For that, it must be ap­plauded.

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