India and Pakistan indulge in blame game after abandoned ACT final

Officials of both Hockey India and Pakistan Hockey Federation blamed each other for choosing to abandon the 2018 Asian Champions Trophy final, affected by rain and thunderstorm in Muscat.

India remained unbeaten in the tournament and topped the group stage with 13 points, courtesy four wins and a draw out of their five games. Whereas, Pakistan ended the round robin stages on the second spot with 10 points.   -  Hockey India Twitter Page

They lifted the Asian Champions Trophy jointly but India and Pakistan were, on Wednesday, locked in a war of words over how the decision was reached to abandon the final of the 2018 Asian Champions Trophy after a thunderstorm and heavy showers in Muscat.

The two teams jointly took the trophy on Sunday night and on Wednesday, Pakistan coach Hassan Sardar triggered a controversy by claiming that India backed out of the summit clash on a soggy pitch even though his side wanted to play.

A Hockey India official rejected the claim, calling it a “blatant lie” and said Pakistan was the one in a hurry to leave owing to an early morning return flight.

“Our boys were pumped up for the final match. Even after the heavy rains we told the organisers we will play if they wanted the final to go ahead. But the Indians refused because of the conditions,” Sardar said on Wednesday in Karachi.

Hockey India rubbished the assertion.

“It’s a blatant lie. It was Pakistan who didn’t want to play as it had a return flight at 3am in the morning. Our flight was next day so we had no problem in waiting,” the Hockey India official told PTI on condition of anonymity.

“By the time rain stopped, it was already 10.30 pm local time and if match was to start, it would have taken at least two more hours to prepare the pitch. The pitch was completely flooded, even the Tournament Director, broadcasters and commentators rooms were flooded,” he added.

Addressing other issues, Sardar also requested the government to release much-needed funds for the hockey team.

“People need to understand the mental state of our players and officials at the moment. The players responded magnificently despite not getting their full daily allowances.

“There were problems with the hotel booking as well adding to the strain on us. But I say hats off to the PHF (Pakistan Hockey Federation) President, Brigadier (retd) Khalid Khokar who managed to arrange funds to pay off the hotel dues and give some peace of mind to the team,” he said.