New Delhi: Delhi Waveriders, the Delhi franchise of the inaugural Hockey India League, were dealt a severe blow even before the start of the tournament after their Dutch drag-flick specialist Taeke Taekema was ruled out of the entire event due to a back injury.
Taekema, who was bought by Delhi Waveriders at his base price of Rs 13.6 lakhs, was one of the star foreign players in the HIL players' auction.
"We will miss the services of our drag-flick specialist Taekema. We just got a message from him that he is injured. He is recuperating from a back injury and won't be available for the entire league," the chief advisor of Delhi Waveriders, Ajitpal Singh told reporters here today.
"It is a big loss for us as he is one of the best penalty corner specialist in the world. But we have balanced side and I hope his absence won't affect us much," he said.
With three days to go for the league, nine Pakistani contracted Pakistani players are yet to arrive in India due to visa issues in the wake of growing tensions between the two countries because of the recent events at the Line of Control.
Delhi Waveriders are among the four franchises who have bought Pakistani players -- Mohammad Rizwan Sr and Mohammad Rizwan Jr.
Asked about the development, the Delhi Waveriders chief advisor said they are keeping their fingers crossed.
"We have heard that all the nine Pakistani players have been called in the Indian High Commission in Pakistan today. We can't do anything but wait and watch," he said.
As per reports the players' visas were put on hold because of the alleged killing of two Indian soldiers by the Pakistani armed forces on Tuesday.
Terming the incident at the border as "brutal", the former captain of the Indian hockey team, however, said that sportsmen should not suffer because of diplomatic tensions between the two countries.
"What has happened at the LOC is brutal but I feel the players should not suffer due to this," Ajitpal said.
"What happens in the border has no relation with sports. There is no relation between politics and sports."
Admitting that security is always a big issue in organising events in India and Pakistan, Ajitpal assured of adequate security for the two Pakistani players in the Delhi Waveriders team.
Delhi Waveriders head coach A K Bansal is also a worried man in the wake of the latest developments but said he has enough backup players to fall back upon in case he doesn't get the services of his two Pakistani recruits.
"We have two Pakistani players out of nine. When we purchased we chose the best. If they fail to come no doubt it will affect us. But in case it happens we have the option of picking up players from the unsold bracket.
"But I hope by tomorrow all the nine Pakistani players will be here," he said.
Talking about his team, Bansal said goalkeeping is one of the strengths of Delhi Waveriders.
"Goalkeeping is our strength. In German Nicolas Jacobi and Dutch Pirmin Blaak we have two best goalkeepers in the world," he said.
Delhi Waveriders captain and marque player, Sardar Singh is also optimistic about his team's chances.
"We have some of the best players in the world in our team. We also have the best support staffs. We have got a week's time to practice, so I don't think gelling as unit will be a problem," he said.
Meanwhile, CEO of Delhi Waveriders, Amar Sinha said as that part of the company's Corporate Social Responsibility, they have decided to throw open the gates of Major Dhyanchand National Stadium to the public for the team's HIL opener against Jaypee Punjab Warriors on January 14.