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Cricketers new role models for hapless Pakistan hockey team

Pakistan lost their Hockey World League semifinal knockout match against Argentina 3-1 and still retain hope to qualify for 2018 World Cup.

other sports Updated: Jun 22, 2017 21:50 IST
Soumitra Bose
Soumitra Bose
Hindustan Times, London
Hockey World League semifinal,Pakistan hockey team,Pakistan Cricket Team
Pakistan lost 3-1 against Argentina in a quarterfinal match of the Hero Hockey World League semifinal on Thursday. (Getty Images)

Pakistan captain Abdul Haseem Khan called his hockey team a “bunch of fighters” and said it will surface like the cricketers whose story of resurgence was the highlight of the just-concluded ICC Champions Trophy. (India vs Malaysia Highlights)

Pakistan lost 3-1 against Argentina in a quarterfinal match of the Hero Hockey World League semifinal on Thursday and will now play for the fifth-sixth place in the competition. Khan is hopeful that Pakistan will make the cut for the 2018 World Cup to be played in India.

(Read | Hockey World League semifinal: Pakistan no match for tactical Argentina)

Pakistan last played the World Cup in 2010 and missed the 2014 event in The Hague. In the middle of a poor run, the former world and Olympic champions have been a pale shadow of their glorious past.

“We are trying hard to salvage some pride and the boys are getting better,” said Khan in an exclusive chat with HT at the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

(Read | Pakistan cricket back on track after ICC Champions Trophy win: Shahid Afridi)

Pakistan’s maiden ICC Champions Trophy win is playing a motivating factor for the hockey team.

“Their hard work is something to be proud of and we are learning to replicate that passion and dedication the cricketers have shown,” said Khan, a veteran of over 130 internationals for Pakistan.

(Read | Rani Rampal to lead Indian women’s team in Hockey World League Semi-Final)

Pakistan have conceded 21 goals in the Hockey World League semifinal here and scored just five. The team has suffered heavy defeats against India (7-1) and Canada (6-0). Argentina could have won by a bigger margin today but for some superb goalkeeping by goalkeeper Amjad Ali.

“We have shown signs of improvement. Our defence has been a big issue and we are trying to rectify that. We have a young team and we have to be patient. We won’t give up,” said Khan.

Pakistan’s decline over the years has been glaring. Argentine star Matias Paredes, who played his 300th international today, said Pakistan are no more a threat to the top teams in the world.

“They may have skills but they lack in stamina and the qualities to match the best teams. They have to really work hard on their hockey,” said Paredes.

Khan doesn’t agree with the fact that Pakistan players lack stamina. “Most of our boys can play 50 minutes of a 60 minute game, while most teams keep rotating their players for short bursts,” he said.

Rolling substitution is a tactic adopted by most international coaches. Pakistan will have to learn this thick and fast.

First Published: Jun 22, 2017 21:32 IST