NEW DELHI: Current and former Indian players today reacted angrily to Pakistan hockey team’s claim that an “abusive” crowd was one of the reasons for its failure at the Commonwealth Games, saying the statement was a “lame excuse” for poor performance.
India captain Rajpal Singh said Pakistan’s claim was ridiculous and it was an old habit of the team to put the blame on others for poor show.
“This is a ridiculous excuse. If they were facing such problems then why did they keep mum after the World Cup? During CWG they were praising Indian hospitality everywhere and now they are blaming our crowd. Actually it is their old habit.” Rajpal said.
National coach Harendra Singh echoed his views and felt it was unfortunate that Pakistan has come out with such an excuse.
“I was there in the stadium during Pakistan – Australia and Pakistan – Malaysia match. Crowd was cheering for the Pakistani team,” said Harendra.
“Even in the opening ceremony they received the biggest applaud after Indian contingent. At one side we are focusing on the redemption of bilateral ties and on the other hand they are blaming our public. This is unfortunate and unacceptable.”
Former players, including Ajit Pal Singh and Ashok Kumar, also felt Pakistan’s claim was absurd.
“This is really an absurd excuse. It is silly, just because they couldn’t perform, they are trying to give such lame excuses and hide their under-performance,” India’s only World Cup winning captain Ajit Pal Singh, who was the competition manager in the Commonwealth Games, told PTI.
“Apart from India, Pakistan was most cheered and loved team. They received huge support from the Indians crowd during the Commonwealth Games,” he added. .
Ashok Kumar, who was part of the 1975 World Cup winning team, said though the partisan crowd cheered the Indian team, they never abused the Pakistani players.
“It is natural that the home crowd supports their team and that makes the difference. That is the home advantage. But to say that Indian spectators abused Pakistani players is incorrect,” said Ashok, who was the venue manager during the Delhi Games.
“I was sitting there at the stadium and there was no instance of any abuse by the crowd. Instead of abuse, the crowd clapped when Pakistan scored,” he added.
Son of hockey legend Dhyanchand, Ashok said such cheering for the home team is nothing new.
“In the 1973 World Cup final in Amsterdam, we were leading 2-0 against Holland after Surjit Singh scored two goals. But we finally lost the match and the huge crowd was shouting all along in support of their team.
“So it happens in international hockey and nothing new.
So it is not right to blame the crowd for their poor show.
They have not done well in the tournament and this could be an excuse,” he said.
Pakistan Hockey Federation secretary Asif Bajwa had said that the team was subjected to abuse and insults by the Indian crowd and it was one of the reason for their poor show in Commonwealth Games.
“It is now more difficult for our players when they play in India and there is more pressure on them because of the treatment they get from the spectators,” he said.
Bajwa was manager of the Pakistan team that finished 12th in the World Cup held in New Delhi earlier this year, before finishing sixth in the Commonwealth Games.