Pakistan hockey team during a practice session. -Photo by Sara Faruqi/Dawn.com

KUALA LUMPUR: Pakistan aim to try new talent when they face defending champions New Zealand while Australia bank on veteran players when they play against India at the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament which gets into action on Saturday.

Pakistan, ranked fifth in the world, have dropped four veterans including Shakeel Abbasi, Mohammed Waseem, Mohammed Rizwan Senior and Rashid Mehmood in order to test new players.

Coach Akhtar Rasool said in Ipoh that Pakistan were “in the process of looking at new players for the future”.

“This is a good opportunity to test the younger ones and we will get quality matches to try out our experiments,” he said.

New Zealand won last year’s crown with a powerful display of attacking hockey. The Kiwis aim to retain the trophy and enter the fray helmed by new Australian coach Colin Batch, a member of the Aussie squad who won the World Cup in 2010.

They are led by veteran Dean Couzins and ably supported by Andy Hayward, Stephen Jenness, Arun Panchia and Hugo Inglis.

But they too have several youngsters in the squad, who Batch will want to develop for the future.

Australia, meanwhile, will field a team of veterans, mixed with a few new faces of their own, for the tournament in the Malaysian city of Ipoh, which ends on March 17.

“We have three players from our 2012 Olympic team and we are looking to achieve the high results that this group has been accustomed to over the last five years,” coach Ric Charlesworth was quoted as saying on the International Hockey Federation website.

In the third match of the day, Malaysia, ranked 13th, will vie against world number eight South Korea.—AFP

Saturday’s fixtures (All times PST): Pakistan v New Zealand at 01:05pm Australia v India at 03:05pm Malaysia v Korea at 05:05pm


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