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India vs Pakistan, Champions Trophy final: Why Virat Kohli didn’t play hockey

Virat Kohli said he never tried playing India’s national game because he was scared of getting hurt

icc champions trophy 2017 Updated: Jun 17, 2017 21:49 IST
Soumitra Bose
Virat Kohli has said that he is scared of getting hit on the face with a synthetic ball and that is the reason why he never played hockey.
Virat Kohli has said that he is scared of getting hit on the face with a synthetic ball and that is the reason why he never played hockey.(REUTERS)

The Indian cricket and hockey teams may be just 20 minutes away from each other in London, but they have remained in their own worlds ahead of their respective India versus Pakistan matches on Sunday.

Perhaps for the first time in the history of sports, India and Pakistan will clash in two world events and in the same city.

While Virat Kohli’s India play Pakistan in the final of the ICC Champions Trophy at The Oval, Manpreet Singh will lead the hockey team in a crucial match of the FIH World Hockey League semifinals.

Ignoring the hype

Both India’s cricket and hockey teams have played down the hype around such blockbuster engagements.

While Virat Kohli wished the hockey team luck, former striker Jugraj Singh, a member of Hockey India’s coaching staff, said: “We are aware of India’s cricket final but we want to focus on our match.”

Jugraj said the media hype around an India versus Pakistan event is “for the public”.

“As players, we prefer to treat this like a normal match and not get over-excited by the occasion,” said Jugraj.

Fear of injury

At The Oval on Saturday, Kohli spoke on exactly similar lines but in the process revealed why he never dared to play hockey.

“I’ve played with synthetic hockey balls indoors, but never tried hockey. It’s very scary I feel, getting hit on the face with a penalty corner. I don’t know how those guys do that,” said Kohli.

“You need a lot of guts to do that. I wish our team the best. I’ve never tried my hand in it, but they’re pretty good, so I’m sure they’ll be fine,” he added.

Interestingly, lot of hockey players have gone on to become famous cricketers.

In recent memory, South African skipper AB De Villiers played hockey at high school for a year and former Zimbabwean captain Dave Houghton was a national team goalkeeper and even won praise from former World Cup champions, Pakistan.

Houghton is Zimbabwe’s highest Test scorer – 226 versus Sri Lanka in 1994-95. He is currently the batting coach of Middlesex.