New Delhi: Buoyed by the success of the recently-concluded India-Pakistan bilateral cricket series, the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) and players are confident that the upcoming hockey series between the traditional arch-rivals will be a huge hit.
India and Pakistan will resume bilateral hockey ties after seven years in March-April this year. Pakistan will first tour the country for a five-Test series in March and then in a return goodwill gesture, the Indian hockey team is expected to tour Pakistan a month later in May for another five-Test series.
"After the tremendous success of the cricket series, we are confident that the upcoming hockey series will be equally or even more successful. People are eager to see Asian stalwarts playing against each other," PHF general secretary Asif Bajwa said.
Bajwa's comments came after the successful resumption of bilateral cricket ties between the two countries, which was stalled since 2008 Mumbai terror attacks. Pakistan won the three-match ODI series 2-1 and drew the T20 series 1-1 during the short limited overs tour.
"Hockey is the national game of Pakistan and I am sure Indian team's tour will be a memorable one," Bajwa said.
Pakistan striker Muhammad Rizwan (Senior) said that people back home have already started enquiring about the much-anticipated series.
"I have no doubts that the hockey series between India and Pakistan will be more successful. People have started enquiring about details like venues and tickets. People are also eager to apply for Indian visa so that they can also watch some matches in India," Rizwan (Senior) said.
Playing in India is always a delight for midfielder Muhammad Tousiq.
"We have seen the atmostphere in Delhi CWG when the (Major Dhyan Chand) National Stadium was jam-packed during the India-Pakistan encounter. The atmostphere will be no different in the forthcoming series, said Tousiq, who will turn out for Mumbai Magicians in the inaugural Hockey India League to be held from January 14 to February 10. I still remember when India toured Pakistan in 2006. The stadiums in Lahore, Rawalpindi and Faisalabad have witnessed the same euphoria. People love to see India-Pakistan matches and even we players eagerly wait for it."
Forward Shafqat Rasool feels that both the teams can learn a lot from each other if they play on regular basis.
"We would love to play against each other on regular basis as we play the same Asian style of hockey. Europeans play against each other frequently and that is why they are ahead of us today. India and Pakistan will also improve a lot if we play against each other on regular basis," he said.
The last Indo-Pak hockey Test series, with three matches in each country, was held in early 2006. Pakistan had won three matches, India had clinched one while the remaining two were drawn.