The Pakistan men's hockey team arrived in Chennai late Tuesday night amid much hype ahead of the Asian Champions Trophy 2023 but they aren't getting the kind of reception they would have liked in India just yet.
The team made its way into India via the Wagah border in Amritsar from where they took a flight to Chennai via Bengaluru. The contingent got the NOC to travel to India from its interior ministry less than a week ago.
This is the Pakistan team’ first visit to India since the 2018 Hockey World Cup held in Bhubaneswar.
They are scheduled to play their first match against Malaysia on August 3 and will lock horns with arch-rivals India on August 9.
The video of their arrival in Chennai drew mixed response from hockey fans on social media with some even trolling Pakistan while the rest questioned India on the need to welcome the team from across the border.
"Pakistani imagine if this garlands were gold it could have bailout Pakistan from IMF loan," a user commented while another said, "We have totally lost it.
"Where is the need to dance and welcome them? Why do we indulge in such acts of self deprecation/needless mehman-nawaazi?".
The players however, are very much looking forward to playing in India.
“It is always good to play in India. It is also pressure, but big players are those that perform well under pressure. We want to perform well on and off the field. We’ve come to play with an open heart, to play positive hockey.
"Both countries will only survive in cricket and hockey if they play more against each other. If we play against each other, then it will benefit us when playing at the next level,” Pakistan coach Muhammad Saqlain said.