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Hockey team trains under lights in KL

September 19, 2003 21:54 IST

The Indian hockey team tried to make the best use of the time ahead of its tournament opener against China in the Asia Cup on Sunday, going in for a rigorous practice session under lights at the Tun Rajak stadium in Kuala Lumpur on Friday.

The players had two practice sessions, in the morning and evening, under the watchful eyes of coach Rajinder Singh and assistant coaches Baldev Singh and A B Subbaiah. They also had a light work-out in the gymnasium in between.

"The players are in good spirits and eager to do well in the tournament," sources close to the team told PTI.

The players had a feel of the astroturf at the Bukit Jalil stadium, the venue for the eight-day tournament, where all the matches are night affairs.

In fact, the Indians were supposed to play Japan in a practice match on Thursday, but apparently things could not work out due to some logistic problems.

"After we could not make it to Singapore, we were very keen to play a couple of practice matches ahead of the tournament. But, unfortunately, it did not work out," the sources said.

It was Pakistan who got lucky and managed a match against Japan under lights.

The Indian Hockey Federation had earlier planned to send the team to Singapore to give the players an opportunity to practice under lights since there is no floodlit astroturf stadia in India.

But the IHF was forced to cancel the acclamisation trip after reports that the dreaded SARS disease resurfaced in the country.

India, who have been drawn in Pool B, will open their campaign in the tournament against China and follow it up with the match against Bangladesh the next day.

They will take on arch-rivals Pakistan in their last league match on September 24.

South Koreans lead Group A, which also has Malaysia, Japan and Hong Kong.

The final will be played on September 28 and the winner of the tournament will get an automatic berth for the 2006 World Cup.

The Indian team, which is putting up a in hotel in Kuala Lumpur, will leave for Bukit Jalil stadium on Saturday morning for another round of practice.

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