New Delhi: Star Pakistani drag-flicker Sohail Abbas felt sorry for Shivendra Singh but said the FIH "must have taken a correct decision" while banning the Indian striker for two matches in the hockey World Cup.
Shivendra was first suspended by tournament director Ken Read for hitting Pakistani Fareed Ahmed in their opener and later the Appeals Jury reduced it to a two-match ban.
"He (Shivendra) must be disappointed. The World Cup is being held in his country and he is being banned for two matches. But I think the FIH must have handed the most stringent punishment," Abbas said after Pakistan beat Spain 2-1 in a Pool B match.
OFFERING SOLIDARITY: Abbas felt sorry for Shivendra Singh but said the FIH 'must have taken a correct decision'.
Himself one of the best drag-flickers in the world, Abbas said Dutch Taeke Taekema and Indian Sandeep Singh would look to stamp their authority in the tournament.
"Taekema is one of the best drag-flickers in the world and so is Sandeep. He (Sandeep) has improved a lot in the past few years and he will be the key man for India," he said.
"Penalty corner takers have more options now as only three from the opposition can chase the ball. So we (penalty corner takers) have more space to score," he added.
The veteran defender said Asian hockey can rise on the top again with the blending of continental style and European structure.
"We (India and Pakistan) are now having Asian style and European structure. If the Asian countries can do well in this World Cup it will be big boost for the continent," he said.
Abbas said he was surprised that Adrian D'Souza, who had first started the technique of running out off the line to counter his drag-flicks, was not under the Indian goal in their match on Sunday.
"I was a bit surprised that Adrian was not at the Indian goal. I read in the newspapers that he was ready to take on me and I was also ready," said one of the most experienced players in the current Pakistani side.
He also thanked the crowd for supporting Pakistan against Spain today and said he felt like playing in Karachi.
"The crowd supported us all through the match. It was a great feeling to have played here. It was like playing in Pakistan, in Karachi."
Abbas did not get much chance to show his drag-flicking prowess as Pakistan got just one penalty corner today that led to their match-winner in the dying minutes and coach Shahid Ali Khan said that was due to their defensive tactics.
"We wanted to control the midfield today and stopped Spain from attacking so we played a bit defensively. We did not attack much from the flanks and that is why there were not many penalty corners," he said.
Fareed Ahmed, whose injury in Pakistan's first match against India led to the two-match ban on Shivendra, said many a decisions (against Spain) today went against his side.
"(Non-Asian) Umpires are generally biased against Asian countries and that was there to see today," he said.