KARACHI: There will be no Pakistan representative in the second edition of the Hockey India League (HIL) that is expected to be held in January-February next year.
While it was the same case in the inaugural edition of the league, there was a technical difference: nine Pakistan players were part of the different teams of the introductory version but were forced to return to their homeland amid security concerns without playing a single match. However, this time around Hockey India (HI) has decided not to include players from Pakistan at all.
The HIL will conduct a mini players’ auction next month that will include over 150 players but none of them will be from Pakistan, confirmed an HI official.
“The HIL auction will not feature Pakistan players,” the HI media official told The Express Tribune.
“The prevailing cross-border situation is the reason. There is a Mumbai franchise in the league and it is impossible to field any Pakistan player amid strict warnings from [right-wing political party] Shiv Sena.”
Irfan disappointed with snub
Pakistan national team member Mohammad Irfan expressed his disappointment on not being able to take part in the 2014 edition of the HIL.
“I was preparing for it as a few months ago organisers sought our availability which we confirmed,” said Irfan, who was one of the nine players contracted in the last version of the event. “We also received our No-Objection Certificates from the federation.”
Referring to the cross-border tensions that were the cause of the players’ return to Pakistan the last time as well, the seasoned campaigner opined that the politicisation of sports should be avoided.
“I stayed at Ranchi in the last edition and the situation wasn’t that serious. I was happy with the hospitality and was looking forward to go next year. “Sports must be free from politics. We will be missing out on high-profile action as well as the chance to learn from top players from all round the world.”
A setback for region’s hockey: Samiullah
Olympian Samiullah Khan rued the HIL’s decision, terming hockey ties between Pakistan and India important.
“It’s a setback for players from both the countries,” said the legendary player. “Pakistan and India must play together for the promotion of the game.
“The players can learn a lot from each other. India should have a given green signal to Pakistan players instead of ignoring them like this.”
Pakistan draw with Australia A
After finishing last at the Super Series Hockey 9s in Perth, Pakistan played a 2-2 draw against Australia A in a one-off match yesterday.
According to information made available, Mohammad Imran and Mohammad Touseeq were the goals-scorers from Pakistan. Both strikes came from penalty corners.
The greenshirts will now meet Argentina in a one-off Test tomorrow and will face Australia the following day before departing for Japan to play at the Asian Champions Trophy.