Hockey team leaves for Karachi

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> The Indian Hockey team leaves for Karachi today.

Updated: February 25, 2007 10:09 IST
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New Delhi:

The Indian hockey team left today for an 8 match series in Pakistan. This is the first time since 1999 that the Indian hockey seniors are touring Pakistan. The first four matches will be played in Pakistan, with both teams coming to India for the remaining four. The first match is on Septemebr 24 in Karachi. Coach Gerhard Rach admits that the Pakistan team is in better form than India, but hopes that the Indians will play as per plan and will hopefully give a better account of themselves. The majority of this team is made up of young talent. Of the 18 members touring Pakistan, 8 were involved in India's title win at the junior Asia Cup earlier this year in Pakistan. Captain Dilip Tirkey is the only player on this team to have toured Pakistan with the senior team. And Tirkey accepts that this particular tour will present a fresh set of challenges for the younger players. "Our performance at Athens was well below our expectations. But now we have to build the team again. We may not have players like Gagan and Deepak in this team, but it's a good opportunity for the junior players," said Tirkey. "In Chandigarh, we focussed on a lot of areas that were a weakness in Athens and even though the junior players have played international matches before, the Pakistan tour is a good opportunity to prove themselves," said JAgbir Singh, assistant coach, Indian hockey team. Four of the 8 matches will be played in Pakistan between Sep 24 and Oct 1. Both teams will then travel to India to play the remaining four, with the last match played in Hyderabad on October 10.

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