After more than two decades, a team from Pakistan, Punjab XI from Lahore, will be seen in action in the 43rd Bombay Gold Cup hockey tournament, commencing at the Mahindra stadium in Mumbai on Monday.
The Lahore outfit, the first from Pakistan to play in a tournament in Mumbai after Pakistan International Airlines' (PIA) in the now defunct Aga Khan tournament at the Bombay Gymkhana in 1985, has been given a bye into the quarter-finals by the organisers, the Bombay Hockey Association.
Punjab XI have been placed in the lower half of the draw. National champions and holders Punjab and Sind Bank, last year's runners-up and local outfit Western Railway and former champions Indian Airlines (Delhi), have also been given a bye into the last eight of the tournament.
The Pakistan team will be accompanied by six officials, including two former Olympians.
As many as 28 teams are in the fray in the tournament, including former champions Punjab Police.
The BHA has raise financial assistance to the tune of Rs 30 lakh from various sponsors.
The BHA's invitation to the Punjab cops, a controversial outfit because of their players' penchant to attack opponents with their sticks on occasions, has gone with the warning that they better behave if they are to play in Mumbai.
The winning team and runner-up would get Rs 100,000 and Rs 50,000 respectively while Rs 10 lakh has been set aside as expenses to play the matches under floodlights.
The double leg semi-finals are slated to be held on May 3 and 5 while the final is scheduled on May 6.