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Hockey: No hard feelings over Pak rude gestures, says Sardar

After a fine display of flowing hockey between India and Pakistan in the Hockey World League on Friday, came a fine sporting gesture. Indian captain Sardar Singh said there were no hard feelings between the subcontinental rivals as Pakistan's team management had regretted the behaviour of its players during the Champions Trophy victory celebrations that almost snapped the reciprocal hockey relations between the two countries.

other Updated: Jun 27, 2015 08:36 IST
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After a fine display of flowing hockey between India and Pakistan in the Hockey World League on Friday, came a fine sporting gesture.

Indian captain Sardar Singh said there were no hard feelings between the subcontinental rivals as Pakistan's team management had regretted the behaviour of its players during the Champions Trophy victory celebrations that almost snapped the reciprocal hockey relations between the two countries.

"There are no hard feelings after Pakistan's team realised their mistake and apologised for it," said Sardar, who was leading the Indian team in the Champions Trophy in Odisha capital Bhubaneswar in December last year.

Pakistan's players made some obscene gestures after winning the closely fought semi-final, leading to suspensions of two of its players.

The HWL preliminary league match at the KHC Dragons Stadium here was the first encounter between the two traditional rivals since that incident. It ended in a 2-2 draw.

"Both teams played this match in the true spirit of sport. This camaraderie should continue," said Sardar.

Pakistan coach Shahnaz Sheikh said he wanted three points from this match, but was happy the way his team had played.

"This was the best match of the tournament and an exhibition of classic hockey."

Indian coach van Ass satisfied with electrifying contest

Indian hockey coach Paul van Ass was satisfied with the way his team played in the draw.

"It was an electrifying contest and produced a good result," said van Ass, for whom this was the first time he was involved with an India-Pakistan encounter that had the biggest audience in international hockey.

"I think the draw was fair result as India had an edge in the first and fourth quarters, while Pakistan enjoyed an edge in the second and third quarters."

Ramandeep Sigh scored two outstanding field goals in the 13th and 39th minutes for India, while both goals for Pakistan came from captain Muhammad Imran, who first converted a penalty stroke in the 28th minute and then sent a rising drag-flick into the net in 37th.

India were threatening to score a late match-winner in the dying stages when they had three cracks at the Pakistan goal, but were erratic in their marksmanship.

Ramandeep came close to capping his fine day with a hat-trick but sent a misdirected shot wide in the penultimate minute.

'Have to perform well along the way to Olympics'

Van Ass, the former Dutch coach who recently took over as the Indian team, said his wards are shaping well. It was his confidence in the young players that allowed him to again keep penalty corner specialist Rupinder Pal Singh on the sidelines.

Rupinder was injured in the practice matches. His absence has reduced the potency of India's penalty corner execution.

"I think the boys are doing well, and that was out target for this tournament," said van Ass, who has the luxury of India having already earned a passage to the 2016 Olympics after winning the Asian Games in Incheon last year.

"We have to focus on the Olympics, but the team wants to perform well along the way," he said.

India now have seven point from three matches, ahead of Sunday's encounter against World champions Australia, who have easily won all their matches, including a big victory over Pakistan.