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HIL will be successful whether Pak players play or not: Arjun Halappa
The Hockey India League (HIL) is scheduled to start later today, but things do not look rosy now with the participation of Pakistan players in jeopardy. Such a situation has arisen after activists from Shiv Sena stormed into the Mumbai Hockey Association's stadium Sunday protesting the participation of Pakistan players.

MUMBAI MAGICIANS, which comprises four Pakistan players along with host number of foreign and Indian players, had to cancel their practice session as well. It is not clear whether the Pakistan players will play in the league or not.

A meeting is expected to take place over the issue between the committee and the franchise owners, as it is not only Mumbai Magicians, but also other franchises that have signed Pakistan players. Unhappy with the way the Shiv Sainiks barged into the changing room of Mumbai Magicians. Arjun Halappa, an Indian hockey player said: “Not only in hockey, but in other sports as well, no one (apart from team players and officials) is allowed to enter the dressing room.”

If the Pakistan players are not allowed to participate, it does not mean that the HIL will come to a standstill, as there are 24 players in each squad that have been signed by each franchise, but their absence will certainly be felt. Devesh Chauhan, an Olympian in Hockey said, “Even if the Pakistani players do not play in the tournament, it won’t be affected much. Teams have players from other countries as well.”

Players from other countries such as Netherlands, England, New Zealand, Malaysia, Germany etc have signed for different franchises. Teams like Mumbai will be worst hit as they have the maximum number of Pakistan players.

Halappa believes that Pakistani players after the turn of yesterday's episode might be little afraid. When asked whether it would affect the tournament, he said: “Hockey Indian League will be successful, whether the Pakistan players play or not.”

But, one has to understand that it is the Indian fans that are going to miss the Pakistan players such as Imran Butt, Shafqat Rasool and Rashid Mehmood. Pakistanis are seen among the best players of hockey around the world, who use their hockey stick like magic wands.

The protests by Shiv Sena against the participation of Pak players have been organized in the backdrop of killing of two Indian soldiers at the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu at the hands of Pakistani soldiers. They have made it clear that they won’t allow the Pak players to play in Mumbai when Mumbai Magicians take on Punjab in the city on January 20.

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