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Dhanraj Pillay named in Olympic squad

July 19, 2004 11:38 IST

Striker Dhanraj Pillay has been named in India's hockey squad for the Athens Games, ending months of uncertainty over his chances of playing his fourth Olympics.

Dhanraj PillayThe 35-year-old Pillay, India's most capped player, was controversially excluded from a list of Olympic probables in May but was later added to an Indian training camp after a pleas from across the country for his inclusion.

Regarded as the face of Indian hockey for over a decade, Pillay was finally picked in the 16-member squad announced by the Indian Hockey Federation (IHF) in Dusseldorf, Germany, where India were playing a four-nation practice tournament.

The squad, led by defender Dilip Tirkey, also includes experienced striker Baljeet Singh Dhillon.

Pillay led India to their first Asian Games gold for 32 years in Bangkok in 1998, finishing as the top scorer in the tournament.

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However, he was among six players axed immediately after the triumph following a payment dispute.

He was subsequently recalled to use his experience.

Pillay's rocky relationship with the IHF has been attributed to outspoken media comments, disputes with coaches and resentment among team mates of his special status.

India dominated world hockey in the first half of the last century but have struggled at the top level since they won their last Olympic gold medal in Moscow in 1980.

The Olympics run from August 13 to 29.

Squad: Dilip Tirkey (captain), Devesh Chauhan, Baljeet Singh Dhillon, Adrian D'Souza, Arjun Halappa, Dhanraj Pillay, Vikram Pillay, Viren Rasquinha, Adam Sinclair, Gagan Ajit Singh, Harpal Singh, Prabhjot Singh, Sandeep Singh, Deepak Thakur, Ignace Tirkey, William Xalco.

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