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India gun to end on winning note

October 09, 2004 16:38 IST

Having lost the Friendship Hockey Series 1-4, India will now play for pride and try to finish their campaign on a winning note in the last match against Pakistan to be played under floodlights in Hyderabad on Sunday.

The conditions at the Gachibowli Complex will be more ideal for a game of hockey as against the matches so far, which have been played in mid-afternoon under a blazing sun.

Indians are certainly a dejected lot, their misery being compounded by the freak injury to their inspirational captain Dilip Tirkey who is virtually ruled out of the last match also.

Tirkey was forced to watch the action from the sidelines following a blow he took on the chin in the opening match of the Indian leg at Delhi which resulted in a hairline fracture.

Although the team management has admitted that Tirkey's absence forced it to change their game plans in Chandigarh and Amritsar, it declined to make it as an excuse for the team's failure to win matches.

"Tirkey's absence is a big blow as he was central to our plan of things. But that should not be an excuse. We got so many chances to score in the last two matches but failed to take advantage of those. That mattered in the end," assistant coach Jagbir Singh said.

With the series under their belt, Pakistan are likely to experiment in tomorrow's game to field a few rookie players to test them ahead of December's Champions Trophy.

However, Pakistan captain Waseem Ahmed has said his team would not take the last rubber lightly.

"We are happy to win the series with one match to go. But that does not mean that we will be taking the last game lightly," he said.

"We would field a few new players so that they can gain some experience. With the Champions Trophy coming, we want to have a bigger player pool and this series is our last chance towards achieving that," he added.

The teams are likely to have some practice at the hockey complex and the match, despite being of academic interest, has evoked much response in general public.

The state hockey association has made elaborate arrangements for the smooth conduct of the game and security measures have also been beefed up in and around the Gachibowli Sports Complex.

The venue will be hosting an Indo-Pak tie for the third time having already staged clashes between the arch-rivals last year when both the sides played each other twice in the Afro-Asian Games.

Four Olympians each from both the countries -- Aktar Rasool, Jahangir Butt, Islahuddin Siddiqui and Samiullah Khan of Pakistan and India's Ajit Pal Singh, B P Govinda, S S Sodhi and Aslam Sher Khan -- would be felicitated after the match that will pull the curtains on the first series between the Asian giants in five years.

The last bilateral series between the two teams was played in 1999 which was won by Pakistan.

Teams

India: Dilip Tirkey, Viren Rasquinha, Devesh Chauhan, Adrian D'Souza, Harpal Singh, William Xalco, Sandeep Singh, Ignace Tirkey, Vikram Pillay, Prabodh Tirkey, V S Vinay, Vivek Gupta, Arjun Halappa, Hari Prasad, Adam Sinclair, Girish Pimpale, Sandeep Michael, Tushar Khandekar.

Pakistan: Wasim Ahmed (captain), Salman Akbar, Nasir Ahmad, Sohail Abbas, Kashif Jawad, Dilawar Hussain, Mudassar Ali Khan, Shakil Abbasi, Zeeshan Ashraf, Adnan Zakir, Adnan Masood, Tariq Aziz, Mohd Shabbir, Ghazanfar Ali, Imran Khan, Akhtar Ali, Mohd Imran.

V Subrahmanyam
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