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Foster surprised over Oz hockey team's reluctance to visit Pakist

Lahore, Sep 20 (UNI) Pakistan may have lost their bid to stage the Champions Trophy thanks mainly to Hockey Australia's reluctance citing security concerns, but so far as their cricketer's are concerned the sub-continent nation is a safe place even after 9/11.

Daryl Foster, the coach of Australia 'A', has heaped praises on Pakistan's hospitality and said he and his players have found the post 9/11 Pakistan to be a safe place and they were enjoying their stay here.

''We have been in Pakistan for the past couple of weeks or so and never felt scared to be here,'' Foster said.

''You get a different impression of Pakistan but now that I have visited this country, I know its all wrong,'' he was quoted as saying by 'The News'.

Foster is in Pakistan with the Australian 'A' side, which lost a three-match ODI series against Pakistan 'A' (0-3) earlier this month. However, the Aussies are leading the two-match Test series 1-0.

Cricket Australia (CA) decided to send their A team even though the country's hockey officials decided to pull out from the six-nation elite hockey tournament.

The Champions Trophy was originally scheduled to be held in Lahore in Decemeber, but refusal by Australia, followed by concern shown by other teams, including Korea, Spain had forced the International Hockey Federation (FIH) to shift the event to some other venue.

The decision was taken by FIH after taking into consideration Australian foreign office warning that Pakistan was a trouble spot post 9/11.

FIH is yet to decide on the new venue but India and Malaysia are reportedly in contention to host the tournament and both the nation had already submitted their bid to host the event.

The Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) had lodged a fierce protest against shifting of the December-slated Champions Trophy and blamed Hockey Australia for what they termed as an unfortunate development for international hockey.

Meanwhile, Foster has expressed astonishment over Hockey Australia's decision of not visiting the country due to security fears and said, ''It is really surprising for me. I mean I don't see any reason why any sports team shouldn't travel to Pakistan.'' The 68-year-old Aussie was really impressed with the way Pakistani youngsters have played in the one-day series against his side.

''Some of the Pakistani young boys are really talented. The way they bat, bowl and field is marvellous. I'm sure some of them have a great future in international cricket,'' Foster said.

He also praised Pakistan senior team's performance against Australia and Sri Lanka in the super eight games of the ongoing Twenty20 World Championship in South Africa.

''Pakistan played superb cricket in both the matches. The way Pakistan are playing I won't be surprised if they went on to win the title,'' he opined.


Story first published: Thursday, September 20, 2007, 14:38 [IST]
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