In a bizarre show of aggression, India and Pakistan traded blows during a tri-nation hockey tournament in Australia on Friday, leaving four players, including three Pakistanis, injured.
India’s Gurbaj Singh came out worse from the skirmish. “He was taken to a hospital and received two stitches,” Hockey India (HI) secretary-general Narinder Batra told HT.
The skirmish forced the organisers to suspend the match for around 30 minutes before declaring it abandoned.
The situation got out of hand with less than two minutes remaining of the match. Pakistan had fought back from three-nil at half-time to make it 2-3. With just about a minute-and-a-half remaining, Pakistan earned a penalty-corner and levelled the score at 3-3.
Even before the Indian players could recover from the shock, Pakistan’s Syed Imran Shah and Shafqat Rasool got into an argument with Gurbaj and others, and a free-for-all ensued. Players liberally used their fists and hockey sticks. But it was not clear what prompted the situation.
Imran Shah and Rasool, too, were injured while Pakistani team manager Khawaja Junaid was quoted as saying in a local website that one of his players, Mohammad Imran, was attacked by a spectator.
According to HI officials, tempers flared as Pakistan pressed for the equaliser.
"It started as usual with their players using abusive language and taunting our players. Attempts were also made to injure our players. Our players retaliated and soon things got out of hands," a source said.
Though the Pakistani team officials played down the incident, the Indians lodged a complaint with the tournament director after getting to know the full extent of Gurbaj's injury. Players and officials from both sides have been summoned for a hearing early on Saturday.