India is facing Norway abroad this weekend, playing at the former 1994 Olympic Ice Hockey Finals venue, Hakons Hall, in Lillehammer. Today, one day before the matches are about to start, the captains finally nominated their active player and the draw ceremony took place.
City and Venue
While Lillehammer became that famous with the Olympic Games 1994, it is in fact a rather small spot with less than 30,000 inhabitants. The organizers did a great job, there is a lot of promotion around the city and there is also a designated website in Norwegian and English for the tie only.
Hakons Hall comes with a capacity of 11,500 spectators. However, just a part of the impressive arena in the heart of the city will be used. It will be interesting to see how much the Norwegian fans are hyped after the huge success of their local hero in tennis this year.
While the Norwegian nominations did not lead to too many surprises and focused on their two highest ranked players, 2022 two times Grand Slam finalist Casper Ruud and Viktor Durasovic, it was rather interesting to see which players will be nominated on our side, for singles and for doubles. In singles, Rohit Rajpal went for Ramkumar Ramanathan (who is by default our #1 seeded singles player) and Prajnesh Gunneswaran, in addition to the doubles team of Yuki Bhambri and Saketh Myneni. Nominations for Day 2 might change, though. Here is the draw and playing times in Indian Standard Times (Norway is three and a half hours behind):
|Fr 21:30||Casper Ruud||Prajnesh Gunneswaran|
|thereafter||Viktor Durasovic||Ramkumar Ramanathan|
|Sa 17:30||Casper Ruud / |
|Yuki Bhambri / |
|thereafter||Casper Ruud||Ramkumar Ramanathan|
|thereafter||Viktor Durasovic||Prajnesh Gunneswaran|
The Norwegian Team
Not only in Norway, but in all over Scandianavia, sports fans are pumped by Casper Ruud, who is the face of the tie. After his US Open Final loss, he is the second best player in the world in singles, but typically does not play doubles matches on the tour. Only two more Norwegian tennis players nominated by captain Anders Haseth have ATP rankings at all. Viktor Duraosovic is ranked #325 in singles, #224 in doubles. Lukas Hellum Lilleengen‘s ATP rankings are beyond 1000 in both disciplines. The other two players are young guns, Herman Hoeyeraal and Simen Sunde Bratholm.
Saki replaces Rohan
Due to Rohan Bopanna’s knee injury, Saketh Myneni moved into the Indian squad. Rohit Rajpal explicitly thanked him to come to Lillehammer with such a short notice. In addition, Sumit Nagal has also been an option and is with the team in Lillehammer.
Exploring Unknown Sports
On Wednesday evening, the Lillehammer Tourism Board invited both, the team lead and the players to explore Lillehammer from its most beautiful viewpoint,the top of the Olympic Ski Jumping Large Hill. Here are some impressions of the team lead section – for some of them, it was the first time getting into contact with this winter sports.
All pictures in here are provided by my own blow, Flyctory.com, which is covering the tie in parallel.