June 24, 2011
India hope to make polo history in the finals of the FIP Polo
World Cup 2011 - Zone D playoffs in Malaysia.
Click here for more images from the FIP Polo World Cup Zone D
India will be looking for polo history on Malaysian soil when
they take on Indian sub-continent rivals Pakistan in the
Asian-Australasian-African Championships final at the Royal
Selangor Polo Ground tomorrow (June 25, 2011 4pm Malaysia time).
India have never won an international polo tournament outside
India and they want to make it count in Malaysia. And the
Indians believe they have the team to do that. A win for India
will culminate their mission of going home with an unbeaten
record after registering impressive victories over Australia and
Malaysia in the preliminary rounds, followed by a 9-5 win over
defending champions South Africa in the semi-finals to earn the
India last won an international polo title way back in 2000 and
this was in the FIP World Cup Qualifier in Jaipur, India when
they beat Pakistan 9-6 in front of 40,000 supporters to emerge
champions. The last meeting between the two rivals was during
the 2007 Qualifier in New Zealand, with India coming out tops
13.5 - 11.
Apart from bringing a wealth of experience, the Indian team is
reaping the fruits of a training-cum acclimatisation stint in
Indonesia before coming to Malaysia. The Indians spent three
weeks at the Nusantara Polo Club in Jakarta at the invitation of
its president Gen Prabowo Subianto. "The stint in Indonesia had
a huge impact on the team as we got to train with 40 horses from
Argentina under hot and humid weather conditions similar to
Malaysia. It was a fruitful three-week stint in Jakarta," said
India manager Vikram Singh Rathore. "It will be a great win if
we can return home with the title as it will take polo to new
heights in India. As I said earlier, we have assembled the best
ever Indian polo team in 20 years that is capable of writing
polo history. We are gelling very well."
Pakistan manager Abdul Qadir Mamdot admitted that India has the
edge and are early favourites for the title but in the same
breath added that his team will not throw in the towel meekly.
"India will certainly start as favourites as they have
experienced players who have been together for about four years.
We have a young team. Temur (Nadeem) is making his international
debut here but has come up well so far," said Abdul Qadir.
The India-Pakistan final has certainly attracted a lot of
attention back home. Maharaja Gaj Singh of Jodhpur, the
vice-president of the Indian Polo Association has been with the
team since the semi-finals while Gen Issandyar Pataudi, the
president of the Pakistan Polo Association arrived today to
boost the morale of their respective teams.
While India will be counting on their ace Samir Suhag (Handicap
5), who has scored 16 goals in this championships so far,
Pakistan will be banking on Raja Sami Ullah (Handicap 4), a
fulltime professional who has played in Argentina, United
Kingdom and Dubai. Sami scored three goals in the semi-final
match against Australia.