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Pakistan's hockey team quit after World Cup flop

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Hockey highlights - Pakistan 1-4 India

By Sam Sheringham

In a week of dramatic sporting departures, the actions of the Pakistan men's hockey team surely take the biscuit.

Hours after a 3-2 loss to Canada put the seal on their worst ever World Cup showing, the entire squad have announced their retirement from international competition.

And if the decision implies they were nobly carrying the can while others kept their jobs, then think again - the team's coach, manager and selection committee were all sacked earlier in the day.

All the players in the team accept their responsibility for the humiliating performance

Pakistan captain Zeeshan Ashraf

The news caps a bizarre 24 hours in Asian sport, which saw the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) slap bans on three former captains and Bangladesh batsman Raqibul Hasan announce his retirement from international cricket at the age of 22.

Pakistan's men's hockey team, traditionally a powerhouse of the game with three Olympic gold medals to their name, reached an all-time low with their last place in the 12-team World Cup in India.

Their campaign opened with a 4-1 defeat to India and included a 5-2 hammering by England, plus further defeats by South Africa and Australia, before the defeat to Canada in the play-off for 11th/12th place completed their humiliating fall from grace.

Hockey highlights - South Africa 4-3 Pakistan

"All the players in the team accept their responsibility for the humiliating performance in the World Cup and have decided to retire," captain Zeeshan Ashraf said in a statement.

The news leaves Pakistani hockey in complete disarray ahead of the Champions Trophy, Commonwealth Games and Asian Games later this year.

In wielding the axe in such spectacular fashion, perhaps the Pakistan Hockey Federation were seeking to outdo their cricket counterparts.

On Wednesday, the PCB dished out indefinite bans to star batsmen Mohammad Yousuf and Younus Khan, blaming them for "infighting which... brought down the whole team" during their disastrous recent tour of Australia.

For good measure, seamer Rana Naved-ul-Hasan and former captain Shoaib Malik were given one-year bans and big fines, while all-rounder Shahid Afridi was put on probation for his "shameful act" of biting the ball.

Meanwhile, Bangladesh coach Jamie Siddons said he was hopeful that Raqibul, who he described as an "upset kid", may be persuaded to reconsider his decision to quit the national side.

Raqibul, who was set to play in the opening Test against England in Chittagong on Friday, was angered at being dropped from the one-day squad.



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see also
India beat Pakistan in hockey cup
01 Mar 10 |  South Asia
Pakistan to ban Yousuf & Younus
10 Mar 10 |  Pakistan
England beaten in World Cup semi
11 Mar 10 |  Hockey


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