By Omar Khalid,IANS,
Karachi : Pakistan’s legendary drag flick specialist Sohail Abbas is expected to make his international return in the proposed Test series against India early next year.
A senior Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) official told IANS Thursday that Sohail will be given a fair chance to prove his form and fitness and if he is able to convince selectors that he is still good enough for international hockey, he will be selected in the national squad.
Pakistan is planning to play a Test series against old rivals India on a home-and-away basis next January.
PHF secretary Asif Bajwa said the current regime has a clear policy about eligibility to play for the national team, adding that any player who is good for the team will be selected for national duty.
Sohail, 31, holds the record for the highest number of goals scored in international hockey. He scored 274 goals, surpassing Dutch legend Paul Litjens’ record a few years back.
However, the star player fell out with the PHF after the 2004 Champions Trophy along with former Pakistan captain Wasim Ahmed after the duo missed a national training camp to play in the Dutch professional league. Since then he has mostly been out of the national team. The previous PHF president Zafarullah Khan Jamali went to the extent of saying that till he is in charge Sohail will not be allowed to play for Pakistan.
But Bajwa, a former Olympian, said that the current PHF officials have a softer policy and all players are eligible to play for the country.
He said that the PHF is likely to hold open trials next month in which all players including Sohail and Wasim will be invited. “If those players pass the fitness, we would be happy to call them back,” he said.
Pakistan hockey is currently at its lowest ebb with the national team finishing a poor eighth in the Olympic Games in Beijing in August this year.