Chandigarh, February 29: The hockey stars from Pakistan arrived here early in the day, expressing their solidarity for Indian hockey, and to participate in the inaugural Bridgestone World Series Hockey (WSH). This is a historic occasion for Indian hockey as the Indian Premier League for cricket doesn’t feature a single player from Pakistan.
Former Pakistan skipper Zeeshan Ashraf and midfielder Adnan Maqsood who are part of the Karnataka Lions franchisee, crossed over from the historic Wagah border, star forward Rehan Butt, striker Shakeel Abbassi and Waseem Ahmed flew into Delhi from Lahore, while Sher-E-Punjab forward Tariq Aziz joined his team-mates in Jalandhar.
Zeeshan Ashraf said, “Bridegstone WSH is the first of its kind league to be held in the history of hockey and we are thrilled to be participating in the tournament. It’s fantastic that hockey can provide a great platform for forging friendship between India and Pakistan. I hope our cricketers will also get to play together in the IPL. Yeh silsila chalta rahna chahiye.”
Adnam Maqsood said, “The Bridgestone WSH is a great platform to boost hockey in India and it will also help Pakistani players since all the top coaches and players are playing here. I’m confident about giving my best to my team, Karnataka Lions, and it will be fantastic to play with the legendary Dhanraj bhai. If we get time off from hockey, then I would like to visit the Golden Temple in Amritsar and the Taj Mahal in Agra.”
The Bridgestone World Series Hockey will be held from February 29 to April 2, 2012, and will involve 200 leading players — Indian and international — who will showcase their talent in 59 matches and vie for the biggest prize money hockey tournament in the world.
The 8 venues for the inaugural edition of the league are Bengaluru, Bhopal, Chandigarh, Chennai, Delhi, Jalandhar, Mumbai and Pune. Chandigarh Comets will face-off against Bhopal Badshahs in the first tie of the tournament on their home ground.