Daily hopes for revival of hockey in Pakistan

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Islamabad, Feb 15 (IANS) A leading Pakistani daily on Monday hoped for the revival of hockey in the country after its team beat India in the South Asian Games hockey final.

An editorial “Hockey win” in the Dawn said that Pakistan’s “stunning, though unexpected, 1-0 victory over India in the South Asian Games hockey final at Guwahati has provided the beleaguered national sport with hopes of a revival, besides giving the country a chance to rejoice”.

“In a rare exhibition of focused hockey in a pressure-cooker situation, the Pakistan team held its nerve to beat its arch-rivals on their own turf in a closely contested final which deserves high praise,” it said.

The daily said that besides the performance, “the significance of the victory is underscored by the fact that Pakistan has managed to thwart the psychological factor of facing up to India in a final of a tournament, after ending up on the losing side on many such occasions in the recent past”.

It said added that in cricket and snooker too, Pakistani teams have found it too difficult to overcome a mental block of sorts while facing India in the finals of nearly all major events, despite winning league or round matches against them.

The daily went on to say that “any notions about the win reflecting an upward trend in Pakistan hockey – the team has not qualified for the next Olympics – need not be entertained”.

“While the new PHF (Pakistan Hockey Federation) set-up continues to emulate its predecessors by making tall claims about rebuilding the national team with efforts at the grass-root level and through the new academies, hockey in Pakistan continues to grapple with a number of negative factors.

“These include political wrangling, ego tussles, lack of exposure and the debilitating state of infrastructure.”

Bangladesh call up Imrul Kayes to replace Tamim for Asia Cup

Bangladesh have called up opening batsman Imrul Kayes for the Asia Cup T20 squad to fill in for Tamim Iqbal.

Tamim has opted out of the competition to be at his wife’s side during the imminent birth of their first child, reportts bdnews24.com.

This is the only change in the squad announced earlier this month also for World T20.

Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) announced the Asia Cup squad on Sunday.

Tamim is currently in the United Arab Emirates ()UAE playing for Peshawar Zalmi in the Pakistan Super League (PSL).

Tamim will join his wife and other family members, already in Thailand, after his PSL stint.

BCB’s chief selector Faruque Ahmed said on Sunday Tamim earlier had notified them about the leave.

Ahmed said playing in the PSL will constitute enough match practice for the left-handed opener before the World T20.

“He’s playing very well in the PSL. Missing the Asia Cup won’t make much of a difference.”

Ahmed said they were also happy with Imrul Kayes’ recent performance in all forms of cricket.

“His bad luck is that we couldn’t keep him in the World T20 squad, but I hope he’ll make the best of this opportunity in the Asia Cup.”

Imrul had a successful run for Comilla Victorians in the last Bangladesh Premier League. He was the key to the Victorians becoming champions with the second-highest runs, 312, in the tournament.

The Asia Cup begins on February 24 with Bangladesh taking on India at the Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium in Dhaka’s Mirpur.

The Asia Cup squad:

Mashrafe Mortaza (captain), Shakib Al Hasan, Imrul Kayes, Soumya Sarkar, Mushfiqur Rahim, Mohammad Mithun, Nurul Hasan, Mahmudullah, Nasir Hossain, Sabbir Rahman, Mustafizur Rahman, Abu Hider, Al-Amin Hossain, Taskin Ahmed and Arafat Sunny.

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