Shiv Sena threats: Women's team unperturbed by opposition
17 January, 2013
KARACHI: Despite the uneasiness spread by Shiv Sena's protests and the subsequent return of the Pakistan hockey players from India, the women's national cricket team remains determined to go ahead with their preparations for the ICC Women's World Cup that begins in Mumbai on January 31.
Yesterday, all nine Pakistan players contracted for the inaugural Hockey India League (HIL) were released by Hockey India following protests by the Shiv Sena party outside the Mumbai venue. The 100-strong crowd – in the wake of prevailing cross-border tensions – threatened to disrupt the league if Pakistan players took the field.
The development has also jeopardised Pakistan women team's participation in the World Cup, with the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) asking the International Cricket Council (ICC) to look into the matter.
“The ICC has been informed about it,” said BCCI President N Srinivasan. “They will have to examine it and give their views.”
According to reports, the venue for the matches is likely to be shifted to Ahmedabad.
Meanwhile, the PCB has confirmed to Our Sources that a request has been made to the ICC to arrange strict security measures for the team.
“We've contacted the ICC after Mumbai situation caused return of Pakistan hockey players,” said a PCB spokesperson. “The board has asked the ICC to make fool-proof security arrangements or if it finds appropriate, the venue can be changed.”
Women team remains unperturbed
According to team manager Ayesha Ashar, the Pakistan women's team – which has shown improvement over the years – are resolved to take part in the major tournament.
“We are not looking at things beyond our preparations,” Ayesha told Our Sources. “None of our players are worried. They're highly motivated ahead of this competition. As far as the threats are concerned, it's not something that we can decide on and is the matter for the relevant authorities [PCB, BCCI and ICC].”
She said Pakistan's final phase of training camp began yesterday and will continue until the team's departure scheduled for January 26.
“We have planned an extensive and will remain focused on that. The team will also play four practice matches during training. Pakistan head coach Dav Whatmore will also give tips while a session with [psychologist] Maqbool Babri is also planned for the tour. So far our plans are on track.”
PHF stands with HIL stance on players: Bajwa
Meanwhile, Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) Secretary Asif Bajwa said the body was in contact with its India counterparts over the matter of Pakistan players in the HIL.
“The decision to send the players back was taken to ensure their security,” said Bajwa. “Things weren't serious till Monday but when their ruling party supported Shiv Sena's stance, we were left with no option other than to ask Hockey India to send our players back. Our cordial relations with Hockey India will not be affected by this and the planned bilateral series in March-April is still on. The players' contract will remain active and they will feature in the second edition.”
Meanwhile, HIL chairman Narinder Batra said the Pakistan players who were released will receive their contract money for 2013 in full.
“Our players are highly motivated for this competition and want to play with full strength. As far as the threats are concerned, it's not our concern and is the matter for the relevant authorities.”
“Our cordial relations with Hockey India will not be affected by this and the planned bilateral series in March-April is still on. The players' HIL contract will remain active and they will feature in the second edition.”