The government clearance for travelling to India is still awaited, but that has not stopped Pakistan from announcing an 18-member squad, to be led by Zeeshan Ashraf, for the Hockey World Cup starting February 28 in New Delhi.

There were no major surprises in the squad with the same set of players being retained for the World Cup who recently played in a qualifying tournament in France and in a Challenge Cup event in Argentina.

Pakistan will open their World Cup campaign on February 28 against arch-rivals India.

Although the Pakistan Hockey Federation announced the squad, it is still waiting for official clearance from the government. The PHF has asked for clearance from the ministry of sports which will in turn get clearance from the interior and foreign affairs.

But a PHF official said he didn’t foresee any problems in getting the clearance as the government itself was keen to see the team play in India despite the recent fiasco over the Indian Premier League (IPL) players’ auction.

Pakistan has not won the World Cup since 1994 when it lifted the trophy in Sydney.

The Squad Zeeshan Ashraf (C), Nasir Ahmad, Salman Akber, Sohail Abbas, Muhammad Imran, Muhammad Irfan, Waseem Ahmad, Sajjad Anwar, Rehan Butt, Shakeel Abbasi, Abdul Haseem Khan, Muhammad Zubair, Akhtar Ali, Omer Bhutta, Farid Ahmed, Abbas Haider, Muhammad Rizwan and Muhammd Rashid.

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