The absence of Pakistani players in the second edition of the Hockey India League (HIL) which begins tomorrow will take some gloss off the competition, believes Pakistan legend Tahir Zaman, who will be part of Star Sports’ expert Hindi studio team.
Tahir Zaman (right) with former India captain Viren Rasquinha yesterday
“I’m a little saddened that Pakistani players are not a part of this edition of the HIL. If they were involved, the excitement about the league would have grown not just in India, but also in Pakistan. Audiences there would have been even more excited about the event.
We could have witnessed a contest between the skilled hockey of India and Pakistan players against the hit-and-run hockey of European players. “But I hope that next time around Pakistan players can participate.
I’m sure there are a lot of players there who will sit in front of their television sets watching the HIL matches with excitement,” Zaman told reporters on the sidelines of a press conference by HIL’s official broadcaster Star Sports who will be investing a whopping Rs 1500 crore in hockey over the next eight years.
Hockey India was forced to send back nine Pakistani players in the inaugural edition of the tournament last year after protests flared up over the killings of Indian soldiers.
Bilateral series soon?
Zaman, who is Pakistan’s team coach, remained hopeful that fans across both countries would soon witness the traditional powerhouses take on each other in a bilateral series.
“We have sent a memorandum to Hockey India for a bilateral series. We are awaiting a letter of understanding from them. We want that not only the national team, but also the youth teams start playing against each other soon.
When Pakistan and India play each other it is a very special event for the spectators. I believe if we could separate politics from our sports, it would be a more professional approach, but this is just my opinion,” he said. India and Pakistan last played a bilateral hockey series in 2006.