Thursday, October 17, 2013

Ek minit... Pitch will be ready..

THE Malaysian juniors will take on India in a three-test series starting Friday at the Dhyan Chand Hockey Stadium in New Delhi.
   And while Malaysia are still in the midst of finalising their squad, the Dhyan Chand Stadium is also still undergoing maintenance work to make it match-fit.
   “We trained at the second pitch in the morning, and it was in good condition, however, from my observation, pitch one looked a little bumpy and dirty,” said Malaysian team manager Mirnawan Nawawi.
    Two players were included for the tour, while two from the Sultan of Johor Cup were rested.
    Firhan Ashaari, injured, and Muhammad Azwar will be left behind, while Dangerous Lee and Joel Samuel van Huizen will be tested at the test series.
   The three matches will be played Friday, on Sunday and Monday.
   “However, when we spoke to the stadium management, they did say that maintenance work will start soon, and they will wash the pitch and make it match-fit in no time,” said Mirnawan.
    Malaysia are in Group D of the Junior World Cup with England, New Zealand and South Africa. And in the last-eight cross-over, if Malaysia finish among the top-two in their group, they are likely to meet either Netherlands or hosts India.
    Malaysia last played India in the Sultan of Johor Cup, and drew 3-3 in the pool, and then lost 3-0 in the final.
   “We might just meet India in the crossover (quarter-finals) and that is why these three matches are very important to our preparations.
    “We also need to test the pitch, especially for penalty corner variations, and its better to get used to it now, than to arrive for the tournament and then find its conditions not suitable for our penalty corner flickers during the first match,” said Mirnawan.
    Chief coach K. Dharmaraj will name his final squad by Nov 18 and the team will leave for the Junior World Cup on Dec 1.