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Pillay, Dhillon opt out of Pakistan tour

August 27, 2004 16:58 IST

India will field a depleted side in the upcoming hockey series against Pakistan later next month.

While veterans Dhanraj Pillay and Baljit Singh Dhillon have opted out of the series, Gagan Ajit Singh and Deepak Thakur will miss the tour because of injuries.

Pillay and Dhillon, who were far from impressive in India's campaign in the Olympic Games, have already communicated to the Indian Hockey Federation that they should not be considered for the two-leg series, in which both countries will host two matches each.

"We had sent a circular to all the players on their availability for the series against Pakistan. Pillay and Dhillon have written to us that they would not be playing," IHF president KPS Gill said on Friday.

Gill said players like Gagan Ajit Singh, Deepak Thakur and William Xalco will not be in a position to play in the first leg of the series in Pakistan because of injuries.

"Gagan has a nagging hamstring injury and wants us to rest him. He has requested us for some rest but he may be fit to play in the second leg, to be held in India," Gill said.

"Dr Vece Paes has advised us not to consider Deepak Thakur till he is completely fit. Dr Paes has told us that Deepak has to be under observation and should not be fielded till we are absolutely sure about his fitness. We do not want to lose a good player and will not take any chances," he added.

Xalco has a left thumb injury and the IHF expects him to be fit for the second leg of the series, to be held in first week of October.

"We expect all these players to be fit by the time the second leg begins. We will take stock of the situation when the time comes. We have to form the team with the players available," Gill said.

He said a camp is already underway in Chandigarh as the IHF had anticipated some injuries.

"We have started a camp in Chandigarh because we knew that there would be injuries. It will help us to get the players as replacements for the injured ones. I knew the players would be very tired."

Asked whether the decision to field younger players for the last classification match against South Korea was an indication that there could be no place for seniors like Pillay and Dhillon in future teams, Gill replied, "Our idea is not to drop anyone. But we have to keep the future in mind and build the nucleus of a team. We have to look ahead at the next Olympics."

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