New Delhi based freelance journalist and hockey lover K. Arumugam is the founder editor
A science graduate from the Presidency College (Chennai) and a post-graduate from prestigious Indian Institute of Technology (Bombay) in Geology and Hydrology, Arumugam has been professionally a water expert. He has taken volunteer retirement from a lucrative government job and is devoting full time for hockey.
PHF slaps heavy fines on Abbasi, Butt for playing in World Series Hockey
ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Hockey Federation has fined Olympian Shakeel Abbasi and forward Rehan Butt $10,100 each for participating in the World Series Hockey (WSH) in India.
Six other Pakistan players - Waseem Ahmed, Zeeshan Ashraf, Imran Warsi, Adnan Maqsood, Tariq Aziz and Mudassar Ali Khan - were fined 250,000 rupees ($2,700).
The PHF said in a statement on Tuesday that the World Series Hockey was an unsanctioned event and the players could not participate in it.
The players were warned to pay the fines or they will be banned from national and international events for one year. They have seven days to appeal.
Pakistan hockey player Imran Warsi to do a sports reality show
Well known Pakistani Hockey player Imran Warsi has hit the headlines yet again! As you know that the veteran was in India for his latest tournament but his team couldn’t win the match. To which , Imran said that though his team has lost the match but being in India for a tournament has given him many memories and he longs to visit the country again.
However, the news about the player that has created the waves is that while his stay in India, Imran was offered to do a sports reality show and the player has apparently given a nod for it. Asked about this reality show- Imran said that this will be the first reality show of its kind that will be based on sports and it will also help them to promote their game. He added that this reality show will be very different from the other reality shows that have ever been featured on small screen.
Furthermore, Imran talked about the special tribute he was paid by his Pakistani inmates to motivate him throughout the game. He added that the people in Pakistan had even created a special jingle for him titled ‘Jeeto to Aise’. We hope that your show goes on the floor soon Imran and we wish you lots of luck for it!
Imran Warsi gets reality show offer
Imran Warsi gets reality show offer Pakistans hockey player Imran Warsi who showed a remarkable performance at the World Hockey Series league made a sudden stop over at Delhi before leaving for Holland on Saturday evening.
Dressed in a black tee and adjusting his long locks, Imran told us, ” I had a amazing experience during the league. Last match was very depressing we lost the match and our team lost the opportunity to play in the semi finals. I was almost in tears and was very upset, lekin jo pyaar mila yaahan se shayad main bhul nahi paaunga.” He continues saying in his emotional tone, “It was an amazing experience and I feel lucky that I got the opportunity to meet so many people and visit so many places in India. Main apni saat bahut saari achi yaadien liye ghar wapas jaa raha hun.” Next he is all set to prepare for his upcoming league match in Europe. Imran says, ” I will be leaving for Holland and I shall get busy with my next league tournament. I wish I could have stayed back in India for some more time. Pakistani sportsperson hote hue bhi yaahan ke logon ne mujhe bahut pyaar aur samman diya yeh cheez bahut yaadghar rahegi mere liye. Hopefully I should be back again as I have been offered to do a sports reality show.”
So what is the reality show all about and he elaborates, “I have been offered to do a Indian reality show that will focus on hockey. Inshaallah! it should take off soon. Nothing has been finalized but the concept of show will be very different from the other sports reality show for sure. Interestingly, the show will include all well known hockey players and this will help in promoting our game in future.”
Imran Warsi is the highest scorer from Chennai Cheetahs team in the World Series Hockey league and a special song was created to pay tribute to the hockey star on the you tube site.Imran proudly says, “People in Pakistan felt very proud when they watched my performance. A special song was created titled ‘jeeo to aise’ to support motivate and encourage me throughout the tournament.”
Gurjinder hits jackpot
Chandigarh Comet’s drag-flicker named WSH Rockstar, earns Rs 1-cr award
Everything seemed to be going according to plan after the Chandigarh Comets had taken a 4-1 lead in their semi-final against Pune Strykers on Sunday evening. But Pune fought back impressively to ultimately win the game through penalty shoot-out, and birthday boy Gurjinder Singh who had by then emerged tournament’s top-scorer along with Pakistani veteran Imran Warsi with 19 goals was left crestfallen.
It was a result hard to fathom for the drag-flicker who had just turned 18. However, he was rejoicing yesterday after being declared the Rockstar of the WSH. And not only that, he just got richer by a whopping Rs one crore! This is a figure unheard of in hockey and naturally, the boy from Sangatpur village in Punjab was overwhelmed.
“The WSH is a great opportunity for youngsters like me. I got a chance to play here and showcase my drag flicks. Junior players should get proper opportunity and the atmosphere to compete and show their talent,” said Gurjunder who has impressed everyone with his abilities.
Gurjinder honed his early skills at the Chandigarh Hockey Academy under coach Gurvinder Singh and Jasbir Singh Bajwa. “I train four days a week, and hit around 250 balls per day in a span of 2 to 2 ½ hrs daily. It involves a lot of hard work,” he said about his training schedule.
Gurjinder who made his junior India debut at the Sultan Johor Cup in 2011 said he was inspired by Jugraj Singh, who triggered a new trend for drag-flickers in Indian hockey in the early 2000s, to try his hand at drag-flicking. “Jugraj Singh and Sandeep Singh are my inspirations. I have been lucky to train with both of them. Sandeep was very suppotive in the India camp and said I would be an asset for any team,” he said.
The village he belongs to is often confused with the place where former India striker Prabhjot Singh hails from, but Gurjinder clarified that it’s just that Prabhjot’s village happens to be nearby. “My village is near to his village, so people think that we come from the same village.
Sher-E-Punjab reigns supreme
Sher-E-Punjab’s deadly forwardline overwhelmed Pune Strykers 5-2 in the Bridgestone World Series Hockey (WSH) final on Monday.
V.S. Vinaya, with his tireless display in the defensive and offensive half, scored first for Sher-E-Punjab. Former India strikers Deepak Thakur and Prabhjot Singh were also on target in the big game as the favourite played true to form.
Prabhjot sealed the victory with a stunning individual effort, darting through the Pune half on a diagonal run into the circle and finishing with a crisp backhander to the roof.
Two breathtaking strikes, a Tyron Pereira field goal and an indirect penalty corner drill executed by Vinaya, stood out in the pulsating first quarter played at the MHA Mahindra Stadium.
Pune’s young forward Pereira bulged the net with an acute angle scoop on the right, looping the ball beyond the goalkeeper adjusting position in anticipation of a cross.
The fourth minute breakthrough was neutralised by Vinaya, who waited patiently as the ball rolled towards him and scooped home.
Pune defenders charged out, targeting Gurjinder and Harpal and then stood frozen for a moment as the trick was played out.
Pune’s semifinal hero Gurpreet Singh stood his ground under the bar, blocking livewire Prabhjot after Gagan and Thakur linked up in a display of telepathic understanding.
Gagan deceived the defence with a deceptive pass on the run into space on the right. Thakur read the move to receive on the goalline, cut in and switch to his teammate.
Vinay was a constant threat to Pune’s ambitions, overlapping on the right for passes which were then swiftly relayed into the goalmouth. He also appeared in his goalmouth to foil forwards with timely blocks.
Thakur got into the act in the 33rd minute, anticipating a forward pass from Matthew Hotchkis and slotting home from the top of the circle.
Punjab’s sharper strikers made better use of space and combined better than their hardworking rivals to cross over just a shade ahead 2-1 at half-time.
Pune wrested back ball possession in the third quarter, running with the ball.
Prabhjot sounded the boards finally after numerous on-the-run attempts, this time crashing a backhander past Gurpreet, punishing a distracted rival defence.
The first season champion earned Rs. 4 crore and second-placed team Rs. 2 crore.
The losing semifinalists — Chandigarh Comets and Karnataka Lions — got Rs. 1 crore each.
Gurjinder and Imran Warsi of Chennai Cheetahs shared the Golden Stick award for scoring most number of goals (19), worth Rs. 25 lakh. Gurjinder was also named Player-of-the-Tournament.
The result: Sher-E-Punjab 5 (V.S. Vinaya, Deepak Thakur, Prabhjot Singh 2, Harpreet Singh) bt Pune Strykers 2 (Tryon Pereira, Simrandeep Randhawa)
WSH: Marines end campaign on a high, beat Cheetahs 4-1
Mumbai Marines, at the bottom of the table, had nothing but pride to play for in their last league game against the Chennai Cheetahs at Mahindra Stadium on Friday. They showed that they meant business and won 4-1.
In the fourth minute, they took lead when Banmali Xess scored for them. Chennai had a chance to equalise in the 19th minute through a penalty corner, but failed to capitalise on the chance, thanks to a brilliant save by skipper Adrian D’Souza. A minute later, Ajmer Singh made it 2-0 for Mumbai.
Chennai failed to score off eight penalty corners. With nine minutes to go, Marines struck another goal which came through brilliant team work between Devinder Walmiki and Troy Sutherland.
The Cheetahs finally scored in the 66th minute, with Imran Warsi converting a penalty corner - Chennai’s ninth, but it was too late. Too little too. To add to their woes, Aijub Ekka scored to give Mumbai a 4-1 win.
In another tie, Delhi Wizards beat Sher-E-Punjab 7-5 to end their campaign on a high
Marines sink Cheetahs’ semifinal hopes with resounding victory
Mumbai Marines torpedoed Chennai Cheetahs’ semi final hopes with a comprehensive 4-1 victory in the final league encounter of the Bridgestone World Series Hockey at the MHA-Mahindra Stadium here tonight.
The Marines, who had no chance of advancing even with a victory, spoilt their southern rivals’ chances with some fine defending, especially by their captain Adrian D’Souza, who kept the scoreboard clean with some splendid saves, and some opportunistic strikes up front.
Cheetahs, who needed nothing less than a victory to push out Pune Strykers and finish third in the league, failed in their endeavour despite forcing a spate of penalty corners as their drag-flick expert Imran Warsi failed to beat rival custodian and Marines captain Adrian D’Souza till the fag end of the game.
The result knocked Cheetahs out of the competition along with the Marines and the semi final line-up is: Chandigarh Comets versus Pune Strykers at Bangalore and Shet-E-Punjab versus Karnataka Lions at this venue.
Both the semi finals are to be held on April 1 while the final will be held at this venue on April 2.
The Marines struck twice in the opening half through Xess Banmali, a field effort in the third minute, Ajmer Singh who converted a penalty stroke in the 21st minute after Sushil Topno’s stick was hooked by Cheetahs’ custodian C Santosh, and in the 61st through a superb strike by Australian Troy Sutherland to take a commanding 3-0 lead.
Cheetahs’, who wasted eight short corners with their expert Imran Warsi repeatedly foiled by Olympian Adrian, finally opened the account in the 65th minute when the Pakistani ace at last got the ball past the Marines skipper.
However, the Marines scored their last goal to complete the visitors’ humiliation when Aijub Ekka sounded the board from an unmarked position to complete the rout.
The Marines started positively with some incisive moves but Joga Singh, their top scorer with 7 goals under his belt, dithered inside the ‘circle’ and was easily dispossessed of the ball on a few occasions.
The home team, playing at their venue after almost a fortnight’s gap, forged into the lead in the third minute through a move on the right side. A crowded area saw the ball passed from the by-line to the unmarked Xess Banmali who struck home with a reverse hit from 10 yards out.
The southern Cheetahs, who have mostly depended upon their penalty corner expert ¿ Pakistan’s Imran Warsi ¿ to score got three set-piece opportunities within a ten-minute period in the second quarter. The first one led to the second and on the last two occasions Mumbai captain Adrian D¿Souza foiled the powerful drag-flicks of Warsi. While the Cheetahs made moves mostly down the left flank with good feeds from the midfield essayed by captain Brent Livermore and Vikram Pillay, with Adam Silnclair moving in dangerously down the left by-line, it was the Marines who struck off a counter attack in the 21st minute of play.
A quick move down the middle saw Sushil Topno free inside the circle and he was about to shoot when Cheetahs goalkeeper C Santosh hooked his stick and the resultant penalty stroke award was converted by deep defender Ajmer Singh to give the Marines a 2-0 lead.
Cheetahs forced three more short corners in the remainder of the first half, off which D¿Souza saved two while Devinde Walmiki cleared the rebound off the third after his captain had blocked the drag-flick by Sunil Yadav when Warsi was off the field.
At half time the Marines led 2-0 and maintained that in a barren third quarter. And the home team effectively buried the visitors¿ semi final hopes in the last quarter with nine minutes left for the final hooter off a fine goal by Australian Troy Sutherland who first-timed the ball into the board off a lovely and long through ball from Devinder Walmiki.
Though Warsi finally succeeded with his drag-flick off the ninth penalty corner award for the Cheetahs, it was too late in the day to make any difference and to put the icing on the cake the Marines scored for the fourth time with just seconds left when Ekka sounded the board.
However, despite the victory, the marines finished last in the eight team league
Adrian D’Souza’s Friday feat evoke Karachi Junior Asia Cup memories
Sporting rivalries last forever. The one that started in the early 2004 in the international forum truly returned 8 years later at Mumbai yesterday to evoke a sporting memory that normally is not relived in hockey.
Am talking about Imran Warsi-Adrian D’Souza feat.
Yesterday, the towering Imran Warsi was done in in what can be described as a fatal Chennai Cheetah’s match. In the last pool match, the Cheetahs needed full points to make it to the semis. On the other hand, it was inconsequential one for the home team Marines, who did not have a good World Series Hockey, but had the instinct to sign off with a win.
Thus both determined sides engaged the full Mumbai crowds in an exciting contest like of which really made WSH a great entity.
Imran Warsi, who has been going great guns with penalty corners, got as many as nine of them on Friday, but could not materially alter the fate of the match to their favour.
The same Warsi who had 19 goals in his credit, and has been the top of the scorers’ list in the last one month, had been blunted by Adian in the cage. Adrain pulled out a reportoire of tricks from his bag to match each strike of Imran Warsi. The poor fellow, who was hailed Cheetah’s saviour, had to become its casualty, and the man who made this happen was nothing but Adrian.
Much the same way Adrian, then just 20 did in Karachi in the Junior Asia Cup.
Pakistan was led by Shakeel Abbasi, now captaining Delhi Wizards, and India by Marines’ mate Sandeep Michael.
Pakistan was in the final with an emphatic 5-2 win the semis, while India made it to the final with lot of difficulty. Adrian had to save twice in the tie-breaker ordeal to come out of tight South Korea.
So, the final was expected to be a tough one for India, but on April 29, 2004, emerging Imran Warsi met his Waterloo.
Adrian would not allow him any space to him, despite the fact Imran built a formidable name for himself, as he had done in the WSH, drilling goals at will in the entire tournament.
Once Imran was taken care of by Adrian, the Indians grew in confidence and went on to defeat Pakistan in their own den with a thumping 5-2 win.
India won its first Junior Asia Cup with a goal from Sandeep Singh and a hattrick from Tushar Khandker.
True, Imran struck once, but it came after India built of up a comfortable 4-0 half time lead.
Riding on the great performance, Adrian made it to the Athens Olympics in a tough competition. The same rivalry which was often told by their team mates when the team landed in Delhi, which we could not see for want of Live, had been repeated on Friday at Mahindra Stadium. Some rivalries never fade. Imran will not forget both Karachi and Mumbai for sure
CHENNAI CHEETAHS CONJURES UP A SUPER WIN >br>From S Thyagarajan
In a nail biting contest in which the fortunes swung from side to side like pendulum Chennai Cheetahs recovered from a 1-3 deficit to end the day with honours with a 6-4triumph against Delhi Wizards in the World Series of Hockey (WSH) here on Wednesday.
The outcome, which enhanced Chennai’s total to 19 points from 13 matches, gives another lease of life to put up a fight for a place in the semi-final. This was probably the best encounter that the Chennai outfit had played on the home turf, much to the delight of the spectators.
It would be invidious to pinpoint an individual in the Chennai but if it is a compulsion then the honour should go Adam Sinclair, for the two spectacular goals he netted, and the all round display by Vikram Pillay and, of course, to the darling of the crowd, Imran Warsi for the two penalty corners that he converted to bring the parity at 3-3.
For the Delhi team, the hero was, indisputably, the penalty corner striker, Vikramjit Singh, who hit in a four in a row.
It appeared at one point that the Chennai team was near the exit door to the semi-finals. But the match swung into life in the third quarter. In a rare display of spirit, speed and skill, the Chennai squad turned the tables on the rival which was leading three one on the strength of the hat-trick performed by Vikramjit Singh.
Delhi had everything its way thanks to the quick moves engineered by Germany’s Sunkel from the mid-field. Both the seasoned forwards, Rajpal Singh and the Pakistani, Shakeel Abbasi, carried forward a series of moves to puncture the Chennai defence. Vikramjit luxuriated in the penalty corners.
Chennai’s recovery was led by Veeraswamy Raja, who scored a peach of a goal from a cross by Vikas Sharma for the equaliser in the first quarter. But the attack continued to be listless for the major part of the second quarter notwithstanding splendid work by Vikram Pillay. Delhi netted two goals in the second quarter to lead 3-1.
The complexion of the contest underwent a dramatic change in the third when Chennai began to exert pressure. Five penalty corners surfaced during this period. The fierce shots by Imran Warsi were saved with assurance by goal-keeper Kamaldeep Singh but Imran had the last laugh pumping in two to the roof of the net. The teams were on par at 3-3 as the final quarter got under way.
Initially, Delhi held the whip hand earning two penalty corners. Vikramjit’s first attempt was stopped neatly on the goal line by Vikram Pillay. The Delhi striker was unlucky in the next when the ball crashed against the cross piece and spun into play.
In a desperate effort to shift the pressure, Chennai surged into the attack Adam Sinclair touched brilliant form at this point. He hoisted the lead (4-3) with a lovely deflection from the right. Vikram Pillay followed suit within a minute netting the fifth even as Adam Sinclair capped a superb solo run to slam the sixth goal.
Before the final whistle, Delhi narrowed the lead, Vikramjit netting his fourth in the match. But what a tumble for a team that looked like conquering everything before it.
The result: Chennai Cheetahs 6 (Veeraswamy Raja, Imran Warsi 2, Adam Sinclair 2,)beat Delhi Wizards 4 ( Vikramjit Singh 4)
Tomorrow’s matches: Chandigarh Comets v Karnataka Lions (7 p.m.); Chandigarh; Bhopal Badshahs v Pune Strykers (9 p.m.) Bhopal
Facile win for Chandigarh Comets
Outplayed and outmanoeuvred, Chennai Cheetahs tumbled to its sixth defeat in 12 matches on Monday. The 3-0 reverse against Chandigarh Comets renders the Chennai team’s chances of making the semifinal grade grim in the World Series of Hockey (WSH) now into the home stretch for the final, likely to be in Mumbai, on April 1.
While there was precious little to commend either in the approach work or the defensive competence of the Chennai outfit, the Comets, led by the Pakistani ace, Rehan Butt, showed the grit, determination and the ability to ward off dangerous moments with equanimity to reach the winning post.
Put ahead in the early minutes by Amir Khan, whose opportunism from a well conceived move culminated in the goal, the Comets, coached by the former national coach, Harendra Singh, left nothing to chance. The frontline functioned with methodical efficiency thanks to the incisive moves by Butt and the quick sallies on the left flank by Amir.
In the mid-field, Malaysia’s Jiwa Mohan showed that touch of assurance in his tackles as did the sweeper, the gangling Aussie, Matthew Philiips. However, a special word for goal-keeper Harjot Singh is not out of place here. Athletic and intrepid he was a picture of confidence in his work under the bar.
That Chennai, possessing in its fold that renowned striker, Imran Warsi, failed to convert even one of the nine penalty corners is a tribute to the performance of Harjot.
Gurjinder Singh lived up to his reputation as a ferocious striker of penalty corners when he enlarged the midway through the first quarter. This was his 12th goal in the competition.
Briefly, Chennai showed signs of a comeback. Propelled by the neat wing play by Vikas Sharma, the attack displayed a veneer of vigour that brought a spate of penalty corners. At one point, Chennai had four of them in succession but the defenders held on gallantly. Only once did the shot by Warsi hit the post and bounced back into play. In control
Expectations that Chennai outfit will pull itself back into the fight slowly evaporated as the tie match meandered in a prosaic format. The Comets controlled the trend and widened the margin in the third quarter. A whiplash of a shot by Gurjinder Singh struck Vikram Pillay in front of the goal. The Canadian Sukhwinder Singh converted without a hint of anxiety.
Clearly weary and unable to do anything constructive, the Cheetahs slowly gave away even as the Comets emerged as a runaway winner.
With an aggregate of 22 points from 12 encounters, Chandigarh Coments can count itself as a prospective semifinalist. On the contrary, Cheetahs is stuck at 16 points from 12. It must be hoping for miracle when it meets Delhi Wizards on March 28 here.
The result: Chandigarh Comets 3 (Amir Khan, Gurjinder Singh, Sukhwinder Singh) beat Chennai Cheetahs 0.
Tuesday’s matches: Pune Strykers v Sher-E-Punjab, Pune, 7 p.m.; Bhopal Badshahs v Karnataka Lions, Bhopal, 9 p.m
Sher-E-Punjab too good for Cheetahs
Persistence and pugnacity came in the right blend to ensure full points for Sher-E-Punjab against Chennai Cheetahs in a stirring Sunday contest in the World Series Hockey (WSH) tournament at the Mayor Radhakrishnan Stadium.
The 4-2 outcome underlined the edge the Punjab team enjoyed for the major part of the contest.
Sher-E-Punjab continues to be the top outfit in the competition, notwithstanding a couple of reverses in recent matches. It is still on top of the table with 25 points.
On Sunday, there was no dispute about the Punjab outfit being better organised than its rival.
Unfazed by the first goal, which Adam Sinclair scored with a superb one-touch on the run off a pass from Vikram Pillay, the Punjab squad tightened every department. Playing a perfect man-to-man style, Punjab closed down all routes for Chennai.
Inderjit Chadha worked with commendable zeal and skill, and was supported well on the right by Vinaya in the midfield. The Punjab forwards kept increasing the pressure on Cheetahs every minute.
Deepak Thakur and Karamjit Singh exposed the chinks in the Cheetahs’ armour frequently as Sher-E-Punjab forced five penalty corners against the three by the host.
The equaliser was not long in coming. Bikramjit Singh pumped in a penalty corner without fuss after an earlier attempt by Prabhdeep Singh was foiled by goalkeeper Santosh.
Thereafter, exchanges were lively for a while before the Punjab outfit enlarged the lead off a penalty corner hit by Harpreet Singh.
The pace of the contest had accelerated by then, with the crowd expecting a penalty corner for the home team.
And when it surfaced, the fans chanted “Warsi, Warsi” and the Pakistani star did not disappoint. The 2-2 scoreline only heightened the tension and excitement.
It became quite clear at the start of the third quarter that Sher-E-Punjab was on the ascendancy. There was a noticeable vibrancy in the frontline sallies, with Vinaya side-stepping the defenders with delectable ease.
It was one of his surges that culminated in Matthew Hotchkis deflecting the ball into the net, leaving the Cheetahs defenders stunned. Predictably, Sher-E-Punjab began to guard its lead, leaving little scope for the host to stage a comeback.
To make matters worse, the Cheetahs attack lacked sharpness. A feeble attempt by Rearden in the final minutes went agonisingly close to the target.
It was Sher-E-Punjab which celebrated the final minutes as veteran Gagan Ajit Singh slammed home a cross from Thakur.
Sher-E-Punjab 4 (Bikramjit, Harpreet, Hotchkis, Gagan Ajit) bt Chennai Cheetahs 2 (Sinclair, Warsi).
Chennai Cheetahs v Chandigarh Comets, Chennai, 7 p.m.; Pune Strykers v Delhi Wizards, Pune, 9 p.m
Chennai Warsi’s second home
There was a deathly silence at the MRK Stadium when Imran Warsi of Chennai Cheetahs was carried off the field after a collision with a Bhopal Badshahs player during a World Series Hockey match on Tuesday.
Chennai fans, however, regrouped soon as they belted out the name of the Pakistani ace. The cries of “Warsi, Warsi” rented the air again when the Cheetah returned to action after treatment on the sidelines.
There was no surprise that the Cheetahs fans have warmed up to Warsi, who has taken the WSH by storm through his deadly drag flicks. The handsome Pakistani is the man with the Midas touch. Warsi has contributed 15 of Chennai’s 32 goals in 10 matches. The drag flicker leads second-placed Gurjinder Singh of Chandigarh by four goals on the scoring charts. Warsi is a red-hot favourite for the golden stick at the inaugural WSH.
Warsi has scored at least a goal in each of Chennai’s four home matches so far. When the Cheetahs endured a poor run at the MRK Stadium, Warsi’s penalty corner prowess gave the fans some solace. It was the Pakistani’s precision that paved the way for his team’s maiden win at home on Tuesday. Barring Chennai’s away match at Bhopal, the Pakistani has scored in every game.
Warsi said he was not willing to bask in the limelight. “Hockey is a team game and the goals of an individual shouldn’t become the talking point. I play for the name (Chennai Cheetahs) printed on the front of my jersey. The name on the back (Warsi) is immaterial to me. The performance of the Cheetahs is more important to me than personal glory. We will continue to do well because there is unity in the team,” he added.
The drag flicker enjoys the responsibility of leading Chennai’s charge. “The event is taxing with a tight schedule. I know my team look up to me to deliver whenever we get a penalty corner. It is difficult to live up to their expectations all the time, but I always give my best. Whenever I pull on a Cheetahs shirt, I feel like I’m playing for Pakistan,” he said.
Warsi said he was moved by the gesture of fans when he got injured in the Bhopal match. “I was energised by the affection of our fans. Without the support of fans, no team can flourish. We have the best set of fans in the WSH. The atmosphere in our home matches is terrific.
The Cheetahs owner L.T. Nanwani ensures that the players are comfortable. I feel completely at home in Chennai. I would love to remain a part of the Cheetahs in the next edition of the WSH,” he added.
Even for a professional hockey player, being away from home can be difficult at times. Warsi felt a twinge of sadness on Thursday (March 22) because it was his wife’s birthday. “My wife is in Russia now and she would have loved to have me around on her birthday. I’m fortunate that I have caring and loving team-mates in Chennai,” he said.
Warsi said he is privileged to have Jose Brasa as coach. “He is one of the best coaches I have played under. Brasa is passionate. At the same time, he never loses his composure. He has certainly brought out the best in me. I will always be grateful to him,” he added.
According to the Pakistani, the WSH has become a huge hit in his native country. “The live telecast of matches on Neo is a boon to hockey lovers in Pakistan. My family members never miss a Cheetahs match. TV coverage and monetary benefits are key to the development of the game. Nimbus has done excellent work to run the WSH,” he said.
Warsi said the WSH would throw up new stars for Indian hockey. “I know how the PHL became a platform for many young players to showcase their talent. The WSH is an even better stage. I see many future stars in the Chennai squad such as Sinclair, Vikas, Raja, Santosh, Sivamani, Ekka and Hamza,” he added.
The bonhomie in the Cheetahs ranks was evident during a practice session at the MRK Stadium some days ago. When Deccan Chronicle photographer approached Warsi for a portrait shot, the Pakistani directed him to Raja, saying that the Tamil Nadu player is the Rajnikanth of the team! WSH action today
(Live on Neo Sports) Pune Strykers vs Mumbai Marines (7pm); Karnataka Lions vs Sher-E-Punjab (9pm)
Chennai Cheetahs beat Bhopal Badshahs 4-1
CHENNAI: Chennai Cheetahs scored an emphatic 4-1 victory over Bhopal Badshahs to register their third straight win in the Bridgestone World Series Hockey tournament on Tuesday.
In all counts, it was a convincing win for the hosts as they controlled the game well and managed to gain nine penalty corners despite a strong defence and excellent saves from goalkeeper Baljit Singh.
After Pakistani centre-half Waseem Ahmed drew the first blood in the third minute, Pakistan’s ace drag flicker Syed Imran Warsi found the equaliser from their third penalty corner in the fifth minute.
The second quarter proved to be barren as the teams enjoyed equal share of ball possession. In the third quarter, the main Cheetah’s player, Vikram Pillay successfully converted a penalty stroke in the 53rd minute when a Warsi drag flick brushed the left shoulder of a defender close to the left post and TV replays helped umpire to decide the verdict.
In the 62nd minute, Adam Sinclaire scored the third goal for Cheetahs and Vikam Pillay made it 4-1 in the 67th minute.
Warsi has scored 15 goals in the tournament so far.
Cheetahs cruise past Badshahs
Pulsating in patches and prosaic for the major part, the key contest between Chennai Cheetahs and Bhopal Badshahs provided a mixed fare in the World Series Hockey (WSH) here on Tuesday.
Quite predictably, the outcome, a 4-1 victory for Cheetahs, warmed the cockles of many a local heart. There was a fairly large turn-out for the late match.
With 16 points from 10 matches, the Chennai outfit is cruising towards a semifinal berth. True, the trajectory to traverse is not going to be easy. Going ahead
Stunned by a second minute goal by Waseem, who provided the finishing touches to an immaculate cross from Samir Dad, Chennai Cheetahs had to stage a fight back.
And it did that in style, with its trump card Imran Warsi pumping in the equaliser amidst spontaneous cheers.
But goals were hard to come by thereafter, notwithstanding the heavy pressure that the Chennai team built in the rival zone. Adam Sinclair and Reardon, prompted brilliantly by veteran Vikram Pillay, bemused the defenders. Amandeep Ekka and Vikas Sharma lent him admirable support.
As many as five — four of them in a row — surfaced, heightening the expectations of the crowd.
But goalkeeper Baljit Singh showed a commendable sense of equanimity, denying the Chennai team any hint of success.
Though not consistent to the point of upsetting the rival defenders, the Bhopal team punctured holes thanks to the quick surges by Yusaff Affan and Cheeyyanna.
The main striker Laxman Baskaran strove manfully without much support from the flanks.
Progressively, however, Chennai Cheetahs regained the initiative. A facial injury to Warsi raised some concerns, but the doughty warrior returned after medical attention. A fierce penalty corner shot found Ajay Saroha in the way, but the ball deflected into the net. Referral
There was a referral to the third umpire, who awarded a stroke which Vikram Pillay converted with palpable glee.
In the lead, Chennai Cheetahs propelled itself to top gear. Adam Sinclair came up with a peach of a goal, following a rebound, after Baljit Singh had staved off a penalty corner shot by Warsi. Riding on the crest of confidence in the final minutes, Chennai scored another goal following a penalty corner.
Chennai Cheetahs 4 (Imran Warsi, Vikram Pillay 2, Adam Sinclair) bt Bhopal Badshahs 1 (Waseem)
Shakeel Abbasi unfazed against ban
The thinly attended media session in the late night on Thursday at the Major Dhyan Chand Stadium, after Delhi Wizards won a face sever match against Bhopal Wizards, came alive when captain Shakeel Abbasi confirmed that he, and other Pakistan players doing duty in the World Series Hockey, will face a 2 years’ ban, and that it will jeopardize his forthcoming Olympic participation.
Besides Shakeel Abbasi, other Pakistan players in the WSH include Rehan Butt, Imran Warsi, Waseem Ahamed, Tariq Aziz, Zeeshan Ashraff – almost all who figured in the previous league, ESPN-Stars sports engineered Premier Hockey League.
Excerpts of Shakeel’s exclusive discussion with www.stick2hockey.com on this issue of ban.
“I haven’t got any information directly from the authorities, but journalists back home contacted us, and got our reaction. First they (PHF) thought of banning us for five years, and now am told its two years’, he said taking the trickle of information on his own stride. He was as cool as cucumber while discussing the ban issue.
“We are hockey players. Around this time I will be playing in Pakistan, it so happened am here to play in what I feel the best competition in the world”.
I am a player, and continued to be so here as well. I haven’t come here to engage in any illegal activity, I am playing in front of public, what other job I am expected to do, or trained to peform”, he reasoned firmly.
“The banning is bad. It is even injustice, as I often say I have come here on invitation, and only to play the game which I know.”
“I think there is room of improved communication between players, Federation and also from the part of World Series Hockey”. I think and hope WSH people will explain it’s a domestic tournament in India, and as players we have every pleasure in being part of it”.
On asked whether the ban will jeopardize his participation in the August Olympics, he shot back: “I have already played two of them”.
He expressed the hope that wisdom will prevail and things will settle.
‘We are players, we should keep playing, it is as simple as that”, he asserted. Shakeel Abbassi played his best hockey today in the match against pool toppers Bhopal Badshahs on Thursday. The dramatic 1-3 victory not only infused some hope of his team’s return to form, but also the captain, himself, was happy to receive Player of the Match, and with that a cheque of Rs. 10,000.
The news of ban comes much against his day of return to form.
However, Qasim Zia, who chaired an executive meeting of PHF on Thursday was quoted as saying the following in Pakistan media
To a question regarding the Pakistan players participating in the World Hockey Series (WSH) in India, Qasim said the players’ case had been referred to the PHF disciplinary committee that would give its recommendations in the light of the PHF constitution and the International Hockey Federation (FIH) directive before a decision was taken. “We want to give an opportunity to the players who have gone for the WSH to give their point of view before the disciplinary committee before any action is decided against them.”