Pillai, Dhillon opt out of Pakistan tour

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src=' ' class='caption'> Dhanraj Pillai and Baljeet Singh Dhillon have opted out of India's forthcoming hockey series against Pakistan in late September.

Updated: February 25, 2007 10:09 IST
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Dhanraj Pillai and Baljeet Singh Dhillon have opted out of India's forthcoming hockey series against Pakistan in late September while Gagan Ajit Singh and Deepak Thakur will also miss the historic tour because of injuries. Pillai and Dhillon, who have been far from impressive in India's campaign in the Olympic Games, have already communicated to the Indian Hockey Federation that they should not be considered for selection for the two-leg series. "We had sent a circular to all the players on their availability for the series against Pakistan. Pillai and Dhillon have written to us that they would not be playing," IHF President KPS Gill said today. Gill said players like Gagan Ajit Singh, Deepak Thakur and William Xalco would not be in a position to play in the first leg of the series, to be held in Pakistan, because of injuries. Arch-rivals India and Pakistan are scheduled to play a bilateral series in late September with four matches scheduled in Pakistan and four in India. "Gagan has a nagging hamstring injury and wants us to rest him. He has requested us for some rest but he may be fit to play in the second leg to be held in India," Gill said. "Dr Vece Paes has advised us not to consider Deepak Thakur till he is completely fit. Dr Paes has told us that Deepak has to be under observation and should not be fielded till we are absolutely sure about his fitness. We do not want to lose a good player and will not take any chances," he said. Xalco has a left thumb injury and the IHF expects him to be fit for the second leg of the series to be held in first week of October. "We expect all these players to be fit by the time the second leg begins. We will take stock of the situation when the times comes. We have to form the team with the players available," Gill said. He said a camp was already underway in Chandigarh as the IHF had expected some injuries. "We have started a camp in Chandigarh because we knew that there would be injuries. It will help us to get the players as replacements for the injured ones. I knew the players will be very tired." Asked whether the decision to go in with young players for the last classification match against South Korea was an indication that there would be no place for seniors like Pillai and Dhillon in future teams, Gill said, "Our idea is not to drop anyone. But we have to keep the future in mind and build the nucleus of a team. We have to look ahead at the next Olympics." (PTI)

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