New Delhi: The Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium is one of the nine venues that will host the World Series Hockey (WSH) next month.

WSH is a league organised by the Indian Hockey Federation (IHF) and Nimbus Sports. IHF is not affiliated to the FIH world body and the Sports Authority of India (SAI) had asked the national players to prepare for the Olympic qualifiers instead of participating in the WSH.

But with sports minister Ajay Maken distancing himself from the issue, WSH has got the National Stadium, which will also host a grand opening ceremony December 17.

Apart from Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Bhopal, Jalandhar, Chandigarh, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Chennai will host the matches of eight franchises on a home and away basis.

"Some of the venues are being upgraded. So if any stadium is not ready we can use the eight venues. If all the stadiums are ready, we can share the matches in the nine venues," said Indian Hockey Federation president R.K.Shetty.

The eight city-based franchises will be finalized within the next few days.

Some of the venues are being upgraded with floodlights, replay screens, and scoreboards. "The facilities will be of world standard and it will be legacy for Indian hockey," said tournament director Dennis Meredith.

There will some interesting innovations to draw the spectators. There will be two matches every day (7 p.m. and 9 p.m.) targetting television viewers.

"There will be three matches after the opening day. Thereafter there will be a double header every day. The final will be a best of three contest," said Meredith.

The 70-minute matches will be divided in four quarters of 17-and-a-half-minutes each, and not two halves. The move is to get space for commercials breaks.

There will be video umpires. Shoot-outs will feature in the semifinals and final if there is no result after regulation and extra time.

Umpires can refer if they are unsure about a goal while the teams will have any number of referrals but once this is turned down, the process will stop.

Each team will have 25 players, out of which 18 can play. "We don't want the players to be worn out before important tournaments," Meredith said.

Like the Indian Premier League, the WSH will also have a cap on foreign players who can turn out in the final XI. The technical committee of the league is yet to decide on the exact number.

The players will be selected by the eight franchises on a draft system which is followed in the NBA league.

Yannick Colaco, chief operating officer of Nimbus Sports, said they are looking forward to an exciting inaugural season of WSH.

"All we know that WSH will be good for Indian hockey, for the players and fans. We are trying to revive the game and we are hopeful that in the coming years it will be a huge success."

(Agencies)