Seven top players excluded from Pak hockey squad for Azlan Shah Cup

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Karachi, Apr.29 (ANI): The experienced trio of Sohail Abbas, Rehan Butt and Shakeel Abbasi have been axed from the Pakistan hockey squad after they failed to impress the selectors during the trials held here at the Hockey Club of Pakistan Stadium.

Announcing an 18-member squad for the upcoming Sultan Azlan Shah Hockey tournament in Ipoh, Malaysia, chief selector Hanif Khan said the three players have actually been 'rested'.

Pakistan would be going to Malaysia without seven of its top players as skipper Zeeshan Ashraf, Akhtar Ali and Mohammad Waseem have already opted out of the May 6-16 tournament. Goalkeeper Salman Akbar did not attend the trials.

"We have rested senior players Sohail, Rehan and Shakeel as they looked mentally stressed in the trials, so we have selected new players in a hope that it starts a new beginning for Pakistan hockey," Khan said.

30-year old full-back Mohammad Imran has been handed over the captaincy for the tournament, which would feature world champions Australia, South Korea, hosts Malaysia, India, China and Egypt.

Khan also expressed the hope that the newly capped players would salvage the country's pride after the catastrophic show at last month's World Cup in New Delhi, where Pakistan finished on a humiliating 12th spot.

"We have the Commonwealth Games in India and then the Asian Games later in the year, so we hope that this new team settles soon. Don't expect medals from this team soon but, once they settle, they will win laurels," The Daily Times quote Khan, as saying.

Pakistan contingent:

Mohammad Imran (captain), Imran Shah, Imran Butt, Aamir Shahzad, Kashif Ali, Mohammad Irfan, Fareed Ahmed, Mohammad Rashid, Zeeshan Ali, Mohammad Tauseeq, Waqas Sharif, Shafqat Rasool, Abdul Haseem Khan, Mohammad Zubair, Mohammad Rizwan, Andul Qayyum, Kashif Ali, Umar Bhutta. (ANI)

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