New Delhi, Jan 15 (IANS) The border tension between India and Pakistan has spilled on to the sportsfield. The future of nine Pakistanis in the Hockey India League (HIL) looks grim amid rising protests against their participation in the inaugural event.
There were indiccations of this Monday night when Jaypee Punjab Warriors and Delhi Waveriders did not field their Pakistani players for the HIL opener here.
While their fate will be decided by the event organisers later in the day, Mumbai Magicians are already looking at replacing Pakistan's Fareed Ahmed, Imran Butt, Mahmood Rashid and Muhammad Tousiq with players from Australia and New Zealand.
"Keeping the public sentiment in mind, we have decided to send the players back to Pakistan. This is a decision we have taken on our own, we have not received any official communication from the league organisers," Mumbai Magicians owner Amit Burman told IANS.
"As their replacements (Pakistanis), we have already started talking to some of the Australian and New Zealand players," he added.
The trouble started in Mumbai where the Shiv Sena threatened to disrupt the home team's matches if it fielded the Pakistani players. This was followed by a minor protest during the opening HIL match in the national capital.
Delhi Waveriders CEO Amar Singh told IANS they would accept the organisers' decision on the issue and would duly compensate their Pakistani recruits in case they are required to return home.
"Lets see what comes out of the meeting in the evening. The Pakistani players are not at fault for what is happening. If they are to sent back, they won't return empty-handed," said Sinha of Muhammad Rizwan Sr. and Muhammad Rizwan Jr.
Two Pakistani players are in the Ranchi Rhinos and one in Punjab Warriors.