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New-look hockey team for Pakistan series
September 20, 2004 12:47 IST
Last Updated: September 20, 2004 15:16 IST
Keeping an eye on next year's Champions Trophy and the 2005 Junior World Cup, the Indian Hockey Federation on Monday announced a new look 18-member team for the tour of Pakistan, where the traditional rivals will clash in a Test series for the first time in five years.
The IHF ignored Dhanraj Pillay, Baljit Singh Dhillon, Deepak Thakur and Gagan Ajit Singh, who all were part of the team at the Athens Olympics, after the four players made themselves unavailable for selection for different reasons.
While veterans Pillay and Dhillon withdrew from the series because of commitments to play for foreign clubs, Depak Thakur opted out due to injury. Gagan Ajit pulled out due to personal reasons.
Prabhjot Singh, who had accused chief coach Gerhard Rach of not allowing to him to play for longer duration during matches at Athens, was not considered for selection since he is out of form, IHF president K P S Gill said while announcing the team in Chandigarh.
The Dilip Tirkey-led team has a "right balance of youth and experience", said Gill, but added he is not expecting it to do wonders in the four-match Test series in Pakistan, starting in Karachi on September 24.
Gill said the Federation is looking at the series as a part of the "re-building" process for next year's Champions Trophy.
"I don't expect extraordinary results this time. We are in the process of building a team for the Champions Trophy in July 2005 and the Junior World Cup. We are trying to put younger players," he added.
India, who failed to qualify for this year's Champions Trophy, to be held in December in Lahore, after they finished seventh in the Athens Games, are to host the elite six-nation event next year.
In the absence of the regular forward-line, relatively new players Adam Sinclair and Arjun Halappa, who both went to Athens, will have the responsibility of leading the attack with Sandeep Michael, Tushar Khandekar, Hari Prasad and Girish Pimpale to support them.
Defender William Xalco, who suffered a broken thumb in Athens, was named in the squad, having recovered from the injury.
Gill said while Gagan Ajit and mid-fielder Bimal Lakra had made themselves unavailable for the series, the duo would be practising with the junior national team and could be considered for the Indian leg of the series which kicks-off in Delhi on October 4.
Gill also rejected claims that the European style of hockey is affecting Indian players' performance and said, "There is no conflict in the style of hockey."
Taking a dig at former hockey Olympians for writing against the way the game is being run in the country, Gill said, "Don't take them seriously."
Coach Gerhard Rach, who joined the team in Chandigarh two days back, said the main focus of the team in Pakistan would be to earn more and more penalty-corners.
He ruled out the need to hire a psychologist for the team.
The Indians will play the Tests in Karachi (September 24), Quetta (Sep 27), Peshawar (Sep 29) and Lahore (Oct 1) before hosting the neighbours in a return series from October 4 to 10.
The opening tie of the return series will be played in New Delhi (Oct 4) followed by matches in Chandigarh (Oct 6), Amritsar (Oct 8) and Hyderabad (Oct 10).
Goalkeepers: Adrian D Souza, Devesh Chauhan
Defenders: Dilip Tirkey, Sandeep Singh, Harpal Singh, William Xalxo.
Midfielders: Viren Rasquinha, Vikram Pillay, Ignace Tirkey, V S Vinay, Prabodh Tirkey, Vivek Gupta.
Forwards: Adam Sinclair, Arjun Halappa, Sandeep Michael, Tushar Khandekar, Hari Prasad, Girish Pimpale.
Standbys: Bharat Chhetri, Raghunath, Samuel Nag, Birender Kalra and Inderjit Chaddha.