Sunday May 23 2021

Prospects for India-Pakistan hockey series brighten as FIH president retains post

ndia's Vikram Vishnu Pillay (right) vies for the ball with Pakistan's Waseem Ahmed during their field hockey match for the XIX Commonwealth Games at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium in Delhi. Photo: AFP

  • Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) helps Batra retain FIH president post. 
  • Batra personally favours idea of an India-Pakistan hockey series. 
  • Batra says both board will contact each other soon to speak on the matter. 

An India-Pakistan bilateral hockey series may see the light of day soon after Dr Narinder Dhruv Batra from India, edged out Belgian Marc Coudron 63-61 for the post of the International Hockey Federation (FIH) in a thrilling contest. 

Interestingly, it was Pakistan's vote that proved decisive in Batra's favour and helped him retain his spot. Batra will now retain the post of FIH president till 2024.

With his election as the FIH president for the second consecutive time, the prospects of revival of Pakistan-India bilateral hockey series have become brighter than ever before.

In a press conference after the election results were announced, Batra said he personally favoured the idea of an India-Pakistan series. 

“But there is more to it as the respective governments are needed to be on board. I expect that two respective federations would take up the matter in near future,” he said. 

FIH Chief Executive Officer Thierry Weil said he would love to see both countries playing regularly against each other. “That would help hockey grow even further. I think series between the two countries would go a long way in regenerating the interest amongst fans and to improve the overall standard.”

In response to a question of whether the standard of hockey had gone down in Asia as India was the only nation playing the FIH's Pro League, Batra insisted Pakistan had also been offered the chance to play as well.  “Pakistan was also offered to play the League at the outset. But Asia is still maintaining the standard barring one odd country," he added. 

Talking to ‘The News’ the other day, Brig (rtd) Khalid Sajjad Khokhar said that he would support Batra as he was a big supporter of the revival of Pakistan-India hockey relations.

“We would go all out in his support as he was a big advocate of revival of Pakistan-India hockey series and wants to further strengthen hockey relations between two countries,” Khokhar said.