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Asian giants to resume hockey battle

March 04, 2013

The tour is expected to improve sporting relations between both the countries. -File photo by AFP

LAHORE: Pakistan's hockey team will tour India next month after a nod from New Delhi for the first five-match series between the South Asian rivals in nearly seven years, official said Monday.

The tour is expected to improve sporting relations between both nations following the Pakistan cricket team's India visit in December - the first series after a gap of five years.

India had suspended all sporting ties with arch-rival Pakistan after the 2008 attacks in Mumbai.

Officials from Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) and Hockey India met on the sidelines of an Asian Hockey Federation meeting in Malaysia last week before finalising the tour.

PHF secretary Asif Bajwa hailed the revival of the series as “a big step”.

“It will help field hockey of both countries and will give fans of both countries a good opportunity to witness exciting hockey,” he told a press conference.

Pakistan will cross the border next month and play matches in the cities of Ranchi, Lucknow, Delhi, Mohali and Jalandhar between April 5-15.

The Indian team will pay a return visit and play five matches in Lahore, Faisalabad, Karachi and Sialkot from April 23, said Bajwa.

The two teams are also due to face each other in the Azlan Shah hockey tournament to be played in the Malaysian city of Ipoh from March 9-16.

Pakistan and India last played a bilateral hockey series in 2006 - three matches in each country. Pakistan won three and lost one while the remaining two were drawn.

Both countries have won 11 Olympic hockey titles between them and ruled the Games arena for decades, with India winning eight and Pakistan three.

But both have slumped at the international level in the last few years as Pakistan finished a poor seventh at the London Olympics last year where India ended at their worst 12th and last.

India's snooker team is also due to visit Karachi to play a series from March 7-10.