Indian captain ruled out of match tomorrow

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> India suffered a major blow ahead of the crucial hockey Test against Pakistan when their captain Dilip Tirkey was virtually ruled out.

Updated: February 25, 2007 10:07 IST
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Chandigarh :

India suffered a major blow ahead of the crucial hockey Test against Pakistan when their captain Dilip Tirkey was virtually ruled out from the sixth Test tomorrow due to an injury suffered at Delhi. Dilip, who was hit on the wrist and face by a Sohail Abbas' drag flick, did not come along with his teammates this afternoon from Delhi where he is consulting the doctors about the extent of his injury. Although the team management maintained that Dilip could join the team at the last moment for the Test, sources in the team confirmed that the veteran defender would not play in at least two matches. Assistant coach Jagbir Singh said Dilip might come later tonight along with chief coach Gerhard Rach who is also in Delhi. Road to recovery "Dilip is recovering fast. If he is given the green signal, then he may come with Rach tonight and play tomorrow. But to have him in the playing XI, we have to be absolutely certain that he is perfectly fit and fine," Jagbir said. "We can't take chances with the career of such a fine player," he added. As the 27-year-old is yet to be ruled out of the match officially, the hosts have not named a captain in his place. Dilip's absence is likely to have an adverse effect on the morale of the team, consisting mostly of youngsters who now have an uphill task of saving the series against the arch-rivals, leading 3-1 at the moment. "Yes, it will hurt us. It will affect our performance as he was our best defender and the most senior player," admitted a member of the team. Handling pressure The team needs to win the remaining three matches to take the series which now seems improbable as the burden of checking the skillful Pakistani forwards will now fall completely on the shoulder of the rookies William Xalco, Harpal Singh and Sandeep Singh. "It will be an herculean task in Dilip's absence and we will be missing him. But we are confident of doing well. All the defenders have played against Pakistan at the highest level and would not come under pressure tomorrow," said Harpal. "We will have the backing of the crowd which will definitely give us a boost," said the defender from Punjab. With the chief coach Rach not around, the Indian team did not practice today. (PTI)

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