Indian players helped as Sainiks stormed Mumbai stadium

At the Line of Control (LoC) tension seems to be mounting with each passing day following the brutal killing of two Indian soldiers. However, back in Mumbai, it were the Indian players who swung into action to escort their Pakistan teammates to safety when more than 100 Shiv Sainiks barged into the Mahindra stadium protesting the presence of the Pakistan players.

“It was the Indian players who came to our rescue when the Shiv Sainiks stormed into the stadium. While, we were clueless at the turn of events, the Indian players along with the Australians decided that the priority is to take us to a safer place,” Mumbai Magicians goalkeeper Imran Butt told HT after reaching Lahore.

The four Pakistan players — Mahmood Rashid, Fareed Ahmad, Mohammad Tousiq and Imran Butt — were whisked away from the stadium through a back gate on Sunday during the protest.

“They told us not to worry. They even decided to handle the situation themselves after we are taken to the safer place,” he said.

All the nine players reached Pakistan after boarding a flight from Delhi on Wednesday evening.

“We went to India to play hockey. We never intended to do politics. I cannot comment on things going on at the LoC but I can say for sure that the franchisees and the Indian people wanted to see us playing in the Hockey India League (HIL).”

Imran, however, expressed gratitude towards his teammates, franchise owners and HIL for extending their support in the tough situation.

“It was not fear but a strange feeling when things turned ugly. But we all will like to play in the next edition of the league if the situation improves,” Imran said.

The goalkeeper rued the missed opportunity to learn a few tricks of the game from the legendary Mumbai Magicians coach Ric Charlesworth but hoped he would make up for the loss on getting an opportunity. “It was an honour of having Charlesworth as a coach. I could have learnt a lot from him while playing in the league,” rued Imran.


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